Theatre and the Museum/Cultures of Display

Sunday, January 15, 2017 - 12:00am

Special issue, Theatre Journal, September 2017

Histories of presentation and representation naturally align theatres and museums as cultural spaces of display. As museum studies continues to grow as a discipline, these ongoing connections between theatre and museums continue to demand further investigation. From Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s early work around “agencies of display” to more recent considerations of living history and performance in museums by a number of scholars, the museum as a theatricalized space and the performances of display raise fundamental questions about changing social notions of “what matters.” As Susan Bennett says in her 2013 Theatre & Museums, “it is surely time to think about theatre and museums together since so many others do: cultural policy makers, urban and regional planners, arts and other marketing agencies, and of course, visitors” (77).

For this special issue essays might explore intersections between museums and theatre that raise further questions about what notions of display tell us about history and culture. From archives and repertoires to objects, performance, and audiences, considerations of museum and theatre spaces employ similar vocabularies. What similarities and difference in the choice and selection of objects and modes of display exist between theatres and museums? How do histories of private and public ownership—from private collections and cabinets to curiosity to ideas of public buildings and the “public good” to virtual museums reflect on understandings of theatrical practices? How do issues of curatorial practices, changing taxonomic methods, and value theory play across theatres and museums? What do the rise of experiential display and immersive practices share in common? How do issues of gender, race, and culture inflect the intersections of theatres and museums?

This special issue will be edited by Theatre Journal co-editor Jennifer Parker-Starbuck. Submissions (6,000-9,000 words) should be e-mailed to managing editor Bob Kowkabany ( no later than 5 January 2017. 


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