Introduction – Performance and Critical Optimism

Peter Eckersall, Edward Scheer, Helena Grehan


In this the fourth edition of “Performance Paradigm,” we explore emergent themes in performance and culture in the first decade of C21. We sought creative contributions “directed towards mining the symbolic power of performance to reimagine the world” that might discuss how “imaginative resources of artists are endlessly renewable,” thus, foregrounding questions of ecology and sustainability. Of the wide-ranging responses we received, in the form of essays, interviews, and performance documents, we were impressed by the optimism of the contributions. They explore how performance is interacting with contemporary themes of ecology, globalism, technology, species debates and naturally, there are many critical evaluations of these aspects of our world. But overall, the contributions for Emergences seem to have to left behind the heavy dystopian tone of late 1990s and early C21 discourses and artworks. This is a departure which may signal an important shift in performance and cultural debates. What are the reasons for this?

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