Saturday April 26, 2014
School of English, University of Royal Holloway
Jen Gunnels (New York Review of Science Fiction)
Dr. Nick Lowe (University of Royal Holloway)
Science Fiction Theatre doesn’t officially exist. You won’t find it listed as a sub-genre of either science fiction or theatre and you won’t find it on Wikipedia (though you will find a 1950s TV series with the same title – luckily, there is a theatre entry in the SF Encyclopaedia). Apart from that, there seems to be only one book on the subject so far, called “Science Fiction and the Theatre” and that was more than twenty years ago.
And yet Theatre itself was born out of the Fantastic. It began as a religious ceremony filled with metaphysical concepts and mythological beings, and it went on with fairy tales (especially as children’s theatre) and fantasy (see A Midnight Summer’s Dream, Faust, and many more), never denouncing its mystical roots. Even when it seemed to convert to Realism, it gave birth to the Absurd. Still one cannot help but notice that, though its performance has undergone major changes in the digital era, thematically theatre seems hesitant to take the next big step and follow cinema and literature to the science-fictional future.
This is strange because there have been many science fiction plays, some of them quite important in the history of theatre. Consider Beckett’s Endgame and its post-apocalyptic setting. Consider Karel Čapek who actually coined the term “Robot” in his science-fiction play “R.U.R.”, recently added to Gollancz’s “SF Masterworks” series. Consider even Rocky Horror Show and the Little Shop of Horrors.
But in the end, even if there was none of the above, even if there had been no robots, aliens or demigods in theatre so far, now would be the time for them to dominate the stage. In the age where real robots are sent to Mars, in the age of Star Wars, Avatar and the Matrix (and so many superhero films every year), theatre cannot stay behind.
This conference is the first of its kind and hopes to raise awareness of the need for a new theatre that is already here; a theatre that has its roots in the past and its eyes on the future.
This event aims to bring together scholars, critics, writers and performers for the first international academic conference on Science Fiction Theatre. Papers are welcome on any topic related to speculative theatre. Topics might include, but are not limited to:
-Depictions of future times
-Utopia and Dystopia
-Proto-science-fiction in theatre
-Ancient Speculative Theatre (Prophets, Monsters, Gods)
-Theatrical adaptations of science fiction novels and films
-Science and Theatre
-Science and the Human
-Performing the Non-Human and the Post-Human
-Temporality, SF and Theatre
-Dramaturgical Analysis of the Unknown
-Space Opera and Science Fiction Opera
-Theatre and the Weird
-Other fantastical theatres (Horror, Fantasy, Supernatural)
The conference welcomes proposals for individual papers and panels from any discipline and theoretical perspective. Please send a title and a 300 word abstract for a 20 minute paper along with your name, affiliation and 100 word professional biography to the conference convenors by 28 February 2014.
The conference is organised by Christos Callow, PhD candidate, Department of English, University of Lincoln and Susan Gray, PhD candidate, Department of English, University of Royal Holloway.