Performing Polis: theatre, nationness and civic identity in post-devolution Wales


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Abstract

This article discusses Polis, the latest performance in a long line of theatrical investigations by its director Mike Pearson, first with Welsh company Brith Gof, then with Pearson/Brookes, into the relationship between theatrical and political participation. Whereas earlier performances by Brith Gof articulated this relationship in reference to a concept of Welsh nationhood, the article argues that Polis marked a transition from a cultural understanding of nationhood to one based on a conception of citizenship, a transition effected by the recent process of devolution in Wales. At the same time as devolution has put the perennial quest for a ‘National Theatre’ back on the agenda, Polis's participatory and deconstructivist format was devised as an alternative to current simplistic concepts of a ‘National Theatre’ of representation.

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