21 September, 2023 | by Rushi P

“Ethical Dramaturgies”: a special issue of Performing Ethos: An International Journal of Ethics in Theatre & Performance Jeanmarie Higgins, the Pennsylvania State University

The history of the relationship between theatre and ethics laid out by Nicholas Ridout in the eponymous 2009 book from Palgrave’s Theatre & Series describes the relationship of ethics to theatre in the Western tradition as a shift in focus from ethical dramatic content to ethical theatre practice. Following Ridout’s argument, this special issue of Performing Ethos, “Ethical Dramaturgies,” engages ways of writing, working, and presenting performance as they show up in historical and contemporary theatre, performance, and production practice.

In legal terms, ethics refers to morally-informed standards of behavior, what constitutes appropriate conduct in a professional setting. Aristotle frames “ethos” as a relationship between performer and audience, the performer deploying a quality of persuasion that convinces a listener of a speaker’s good character. The power dynamic between performers and audiences provides a rich space to contemplate ethical practice; arguably, all theatre artists engage in putting bodies within representation, and with this practice comes responsibility. “Ethical Dramaturgies,” offers “ethics” as a term to theorize, enact, or perform through theatre praxis; in turn, this issue offers ethics as a lens through which to think through performance dramaturgies.

Whereas ethics is a framework to discuss moral behavior by particular actors in certain settings, “dramaturgy” is a fluid term, with meanings derived from artistic practices & professions (the dramaturg), to dramatic structures (dramaturgy), to a philosophy of possibility and openness in the creation and study of theatre (dramaturgies). This special issue engages ethics and dramaturgy in their many forms. We seek article length pieces (4000-6000 words); photo essays that document a performance, process, or design; and interviews with theatre practitioners (1000-1200 words) that foreground the intersection of dramaturgy and ethics.

In planning a piece for this issue, authors might consider one or more of the following questions:

* What does it mean to run an ethical rehearsal and production process?
* How are ethical debates played out in theatre and performance?
* How does theatre speak back to other social, cultural, and political bodies that frame or question ethical practices?
* What are the ethics of a certain (contemporary or historical) playwright, performance group, theatre collective, theatre company, and how do these ethics play out in these entities’ theatre and performance work?
* How does a posthumanist lens reframe practices and performances previously considered ethical?
* How do other critical performance theories—including those that critique the contemporary usefulness of theory itself—frame ethical questions in theatre and performance?

Send completed pieces (and direct questions) to the issue editor, Jeanmarie Higgins, The Pennsylvania State University, [email protected]<mailto:jmh864>.


Deadline for submissions: Friday, December 20, 2019 (Please include images as .jpeg files)

Notification by January 17, 2020.

Revised pieces due February 28, 2020.

Publication, September 2020.