Diffractive Dramaturgy

Finger's crossed we'll have another published article soon.

"In this essay, I offer, as a theatre-maker an exploration of how aspects of posthuman theory, and in particular diffraction as theorised by Donna Haraway (2004) and Karen Barad (2007), can be used as maps, templates, prisms, to develop a diffractive dramaturgy, a way of making and audiencing work in direct response to the challenges emerging in our time. A diffracted perspective speaks to current critical frameworks; it is part of a new materialist world-view. As theatre-makers, we are involved in the business of working together to consciously create collective experiences in response to the personal, political turmoil and ecological crises of our age, therefore finding new ways to be within nature (including our own and others) has become not only an essential part of that activity, but the act itself....


I first encountered diffraction in a school science lab. I remember it being a good class, one of the few I can still recall. We did both the two-slit particle / wave experiment and looked at light rays through prisms. I don’t remember much about the context of the experiments, just the bamboozlement and wonder the class felt, seeing the diffraction patterns and rainbow sprays. Such seemingly impossible realities, counter-intuitive and yet there, made manifest before our very eyes: that white light should contain all the colours of the rainbow, that a single particle can travel through two different slits at the same time…


For me, theorising diffraction with contemporary posthumanism has become synonymous with challenging normative impressions and expectations. It suggests more complex possibilities for what’s out there and it proposes other ways, seemingly impossible ways, (perhaps necessarily inappropriate ways), of perceiving, challenging first impressions and the habitual and recognised structures, denying the reductive taxonomic impulse and problematising the way we make sense of, and find meaning in, the world around us."

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