Playing with What Is There: Perspectives on the Practice, Habit, or Need of Converting Reality into Theatre, Fiction, or Illusion

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Sidney Homan, English Department, University of Florida
contact email: 



Playing with What Is There: Perspectives on the Practice, Habit, or Need of Converting Reality into

 Theatre, Fiction, or Illusion


My proposal here grows out of four earlier efforts to bring essayists together on a single issue: The Audience as Player: Interactive Theatre Over the Years, a double issue of Comparative

Drama (2014); Playing Offstage (Lexington Books, 2017); How and Why We Teach Shakespeare (Routledge, 2019); and forthcoming from Routledge Why the Theatre (2020).  As the subtitle above indicates, here I seek essays on the large issue of how and why we subvert reality. Along with the literary scholars, critics, and theatre professionals who contributed to earlier collections, here I seek a wide group of contributors, in fields or professions such politics, history, psychology, philosophy—among others relevant to the issue.

In his The Truth (with Jokes) former Senator Al Franken tells of a senior Bush advisor who told him that while people like Franken deal with the “reality-based community,” he and his partners in the Administration “create our own reality… We’re history actors.”

Contributors will doubtless come up with their own good and relevant topics.  Here are just a few possibilities that come to me:

1.  converting journalism into “fake news”

2. staging events to pass as real: from the Stalin show trials to filming fake battle scenes for wartime propaganda

3. the use of alternate “facts” to call into question what actually happened

4. the way terms from the theatre seep into our vocabulary—from speaking of areas of war as

“theatres” or political opponents as “bad actors”

5. an addiction that allows virtual reality or technology to supplant real life or the real thing—

from video games to webcam sex

6. seeing life as theatre, from the Kitty Genovese case to branding minorities or those unlike

ourselves as “other” or less than human

7. experiments that use actual events as stage spectacles—from slasher films to interactive theatre where real people become actors, sometimes against their will, to Reality TV shows

8. works of art whose characters choose, consciously or not, an illusion over reality—from Pirandello’s Henry IV to Sunset Boulevard, among others

9. positive ways of refashioning reality--what is there--through fiction, or being the author of your own script in everyday life

10. even personal accounts or experiences where an illusion was converted into reality   

If you are interested, please send proposals or abstracts (I would suggest a page or less)—and by all means, feel free to ask questions or make comments--to Sidney Homan at  I would like to set a deadline for such proposals of November 1, 2020.


Sidney Homan

Professor of English

University of Florida