'Perform, or Else!'
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Haughton, Miriam , & Kurdi, Maria (2014). Perform, Or Else! Irish Theatre International, 3(1).
This latest issue of Irish Theatre International bridges the discourses of theatre practice and research with that of performance studies, and also with the ways in which social, economic, political and cultural activities perform their needs and demands. Recent decades honed these links through the ‘turn to performance’ markedly explored in the US since the 1960s, as ideas of play, ritual, and performativity flowered and cross-pollinated the humanities and indeed, scientific disciplines, crossing shores and attracting a global reach. This bridge specifically locates these interdisciplinary enquiries in the context of neoliberal economic cultures pervading the western world and further afield, produced and managed under the costume of ‘freedom’. Neoliberal engineers and advocates argue for the economic and social benefits such policies offer, foregrounding their argument around the notion of ‘freedom’. Freedom is a human right, a moral imperative, and a symbol of progress in civilization. As David Harvey summarizes, ‘The founding figures of neoliberal thought took political ideals of human dignity and individual freedom as fundamental, as “the central values of civilization” […] These values, they held, were threatened not only by fascism, dictatorships, and communism, but by all forms of state intervention that substituted collective judgements for those of individuals free to choose’ (A Brief History of Neoliberalism [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005], p. 5).