The current ecological crisis has become a major contention, forming a variety of compelling performances which mediate and serve a complex nexus of political, ethical and social agendas. Indeed, many writers on ecology are increasingly arguing that we have to face the fact that the world is, so to speak, “in the shit”, and that, somehow, we have to learn to live with/in it. In addition to attracting considerable media and scholarly attention this problem has sparked considerable activism and protest worldwide. Significant questions have been raised around how performance – in a broad sense – might contribute to the discussion and work towards a more promising ecological future.
The articles in this special issue were originally presented as papers at the Performing Ecologies conference hosted by the Performance of the Real Theme in Dunedin in November 2018. By drawing together scholars and creative practitioners from a variety of fields and artforms to focus on the subject of ‘performing ecologies’, this interdisciplinary journal edition provokes consideration of the role, importance and impact of performance and creative practice in our ‘learning to live with/in’ this ecological crisis. The papers discuss various ways in which ‘performing ecologies’ enable exploration of alternatives to dichotomies such as human and non-human, or human and nature. Performance forms such as dance, theatre, puppetry, playwriting, music and gaming are discussed in terms of their enabling critique of human exceptionalism and people’s ability to find alternate ways of being and belonging in a more-than-human world.
This special issue is dedicated to Prof Phil Bishop, who was a wonderful keynote panel presenter at the conference that has given rise to this special issue.