In her landmark study Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theatre, Jill Dolan departed from historical writings on utopia, which suggest that social reorganization and the redistribution of wealth are utopian efforts, to argue instead that utopia occurs in fragmentary “utopian moments,” often found embedded within performance. While Dolan focused on the utopian performative within a theatrical context, this volume, edited by Rachel Bowditch and Pegge Vissicaro, expands her theories to encompass performance in public life—from diasporic hip-hop battles, Chilean military parades, commemorative processions, Blackfoot powwows, and post-Katrina Mardi Gras to the Philadelphia Mummers Parade, Festas Juninas in Brazil, the Renaissance Fairs in Arizona, and neoburlesque competitions.
How do these performances rehearse and enact visions of a utopic world? What can the lens of utopia and dystopia illuminate about the potential of performing bodies to transform communities, identities, values, and beliefs across time? Performing Utopia not only answers these questions, but offers a diverse collection of case studies focusing on utopias, dystopias, and heterotopias enacted through the performing body.
‘Although its title does not announce it, Performing Utopia would fit especially well in classes that take up festivals, pageantry, and ritual. The book’s inclusion of historiography, ethnography, urban and global mappings, film, dance, and visual analysis make it a methodologically rich and exciting performance studies text more generally. . . . What Performing Utopia does most successfully is draw critical attention to the distinct, historically and geographically situated political economies of pageantry, parades, and processions, thereby inviting contingency and even healthy skepticism into the utopic discourses that surround such participatory performances.’—Kareem Khubchandani, Theatre Journal
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