Star-crossed utopia and dissonant pleasure in & Juliet (2019)

Chandler, Clare (2022) Star-crossed utopia and dissonant pleasure in & Juliet (2019). In: Utopian Studies Society Conference 2022, 2022-07-13 - 2022-07-15, University of Brighton.

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The jukebox musical & Juliet (2019) takes the final line of Shakespeare’s original ‘Juliet, and her Romeo’ and imagines what might have happened had Juliet’s story ended in possibility rather than tragedy. This paper reads ‘Roar’, the musical’s 11 o’clock number, as a moment of feminist utopia. The song reveals the limitations of the ‘just feminist enough’ commercial musical theatre practice whilst allowing different temporalities, perspectives and possibilities to be explored and enacted. Building on Richard Dyer’s work (1977) this paper considers the utopian possibilities within the musical, while recognizing the contradictions at the heart of the genre. Often musicals create a disjunctive sensation for the feminist spectator as shows utopian energies and promises juxtapose with the world outside the liminal utopic theatrical space, where there is the ‘lack of a culture that allows women the space to feel their ‘experiences’ acknowledged and celebrated’ (Aston). Contemporary musical theatre has witnessed the rise of herstories over histories and revisions of classic texts which appear to centre women and their narratives. & Juliet ultimately reinforces dominant ideologies, maintaining the status quo. Dolan’s consideration of the ‘inherent ephemerality’ of the utopian performative provides an opportunity to recognise the syncopated resistance of the 11 o’clock number, unleashing the implications of this utopian performative moment which allows the audience to ‘experience their affective power’ (Dolan).

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Utopian Studies Society Conference 2022
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18 Jan 2023 16:45
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22 Nov 2023 01:29