‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ unless you're a solo womxn spectator watching Carousel.

Chandler, Clare (2022) ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ unless you're a solo womxn spectator watching Carousel. In: Theatre and Performance Research Association Conference 2022, 2022-09-12 - 2022-09-14, Univwrsity of Essex.

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(CW: This abstract discusses male violence against women, murder, and abuse) On 17 September 2021, Sabina Ness was murdered in London. In Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Carousel was finishing its three-month run. I watched it, intrigued by reports that changes had been made to the musical’s problematic narrative of domestic violence, which ponders whether a slap can feel like a kiss. As I watched I experienced a moment of ‘feminist snap’ (Ahmed) - enough, enough, enough. The revival’s all-male creative team (Timothy Sheader, Drew McOnie, Tom Deering) were given permission by the Rodgers and Hammerstein estates to ‘reshape, reorder and excise’ in order to explore ‘capitalist patriarchy and gender violence’ in a way that speaks to the contemporary moment, or rather their contemporary moment. As I sat in the gods, I realised that Sheader had indeed ‘shed light on our anxieties’ as I wondered how best to navigate my route through the park in the dark with 12% left on my phone battery. As ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was reprised with the company joining hands around the revolve, the women looking out whilst the men looked in creating a visual reference to the protests following the murder of Sara Everard, I began to dig my keys out of my bag ready to weave them into my fingers. Sara Ahmed proposes that revivals occur ‘because of what is not over’ and this production for all its promise of alternative possibilities and radical closure simply reiterated and reinforced the original’s perspectives. This paper considers how this performance contributes once again to the ‘gendering machine’ (Berlant) of musical theatre.

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Contribution to Conference (Other)
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Theatre and Performance Research Association Conference 2022
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18 Jan 2023 17:00
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15 Jul 2024 08:49