Staging Decadence: Theatre, Performance, and the Ends of Capitalism

Alston, Adam. 2023. Staging Decadence: Theatre, Performance, and the Ends of Capitalism. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9781350237049 [Book]

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Abstract or Description

How is decadence being staged today – as a practice, as an issue, as a pejorative, as a site of pleasure? Where might we find it, why might we look for it, and who is decadence for?

Staging Decadence is the first monographic study of decadence in theatre and performance. Adam Alston makes a passionate case for the contemporary relevance of decadence in the thick of a resurgent culture war by focusing on its antithetical relationship to capitalist-led growth, progress, and intensified productivity. He argues that the qualities that are used to disparage the study and practice of theatre and performance, and the arts and humanities more broadly, are the very things that we might embrace in celebrating their value – namely, their spectacular uselessness, wastefulness, outmodedness, and abundant potential for producing forms of creativity that fall and flow away from the ends and excesses of twenty-first-century capitalism.

Alston covers a promiscuous range of examples by Julia Bardsley (UK), Hasard Le Sin (Finland), Jaamil Olawale Kosoko (USA), Toco Nikaido (Japan), Martin O’Brien (UK), Toshiki Okada (Japan), Marcel·lí Antúnez Roca (Spain), Normandy Sherwood (USA), The Uhuruverse (USA), Nia O. Witherspoon (USA), and Wunderbaum (Netherlands). Expect ruminations on bejewelled fabrics and monstrous scenographies, catatonic choreographies and turbo-charged freneticism, sick utopias, visions of the apocalypse – and what might lie in its wake.

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Additional Information:

Generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council


staging decadence; decadent theatre; decadent performance; live art; productivism; frenetic standstill; theatre and excess; Julia Bardsley; Hasard Le Sin; Jaamil Olawale Kosoko; Toco Nikaido; Martin O’Brien; Toshiki Okada; Marcel·lí Antúnez Roca; Normandy Sherwood; The Uhuruverse; Nia O. Witherspoon; and Wunderbaum

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


5 October 2023

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Date Deposited:

18 Nov 2022 10:37

Last Modified:

05 Apr 2024 01:26


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