CFP: special issue of Comparative Drama: "The Audience as Player: Interactive Theater over the Years" (deadline 9/1/2013)

full name / name of organization: 
Professor Sidney Homan, University of Florida, Guest Editor, Comparative Drama
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This special issue of Comparative Drama, "The Audience as Player: Interactive Theater Over the Years," seeks essays that explore plays and productions in which members of the audience are not just voyeurs in the house but participants, players in the onstage drama. This enhanced "role" for the audience has, surely, philosophical and aesthetic implications, not to mention practical consequence during an actual production.

The essays might range from the theoretical or from critical analyses of texts to the actual experience of the essayist as a member of the audience, or as an actor or director. The "role" of the audience is surely varied, from plays that metadramatically acknowledge the spectator by references in the script to those moments when the theater's "fourth wall" is broken and actors speak directly to those in the house. Bertolt Brecht asks that the house be lit during a production so that the audience is a visible presence not just reacting but thinking about the historical or political issues of the play. Then there are moments when onstage audiences in the world of the play mirror the audience in the house, or, especially in the theater of the 1960s and in the present, when the spectator is brought onstage to become a "character" in the play, with or without dialogue. More recent experiments have collapsed the distinction among playwrights, directors, actors, and audience.

There is even a parallel development in many current video games in which the player at the controls is not just a "shooter" or represented by a stock character making his way through a maze to a goal. Instead, the player becomes a collaborator with the game designer, charting the plot, devising dialogue, shaping onscreen characters, even injecting his or her own personality into the central character.

Proposals and finished papers, as well as all inquiries, should be sent to Professor Sidney Homan, Department of English, 4008 Turlington Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611. Or by e-mail: The deadline for all submissions is September 1, 2013.