Re-membering AIDS, Dis-membering Form

Farrier, Stephen (2018) Re-membering AIDS, Dis-membering Form. In: Viral Dramaturgies, HIV and AIDS in Performance in the Twenty-first Century. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham (Switzerland), pp. 155-172. ISBN 9783319703169


In the context of a volume that deals with HIV and AIDS in twenty-first-century performance, this chapter considers the role and importance of the past for future works. It engages with recent ideas of queer temporalities in order to make the case that historical performances about HIV and AIDS should form part of the lexicon of twenty-first-century narratives. In order to explore the way in which the past might be attended in plays and productions dealing with HIV and AIDS, this discussion turns to a club performance in London, UK. The club or cabaret setting is a key place for queer performance (though not as thoroughly studied as productions on more formal stages) in that it engages with an audience in ways, perhaps, mainstream theatre tends not to. Consequently, this discussion moves from historical representations of HIV and AIDS that happened on stages in conventional theatre buildings to an emblematic show in a club setting. In order to deal with the past in the present, I explore the knotty problem that although narratives of HIV and AIDS carry heavy histories, they are often forgotten, or written over. With an eye on writing on queer temporalities, this chapter examines the way in which some (highly selective and along a UK/US axis) representations of HIV, AIDS, people living with HIV and people living with AIDS are constructed dramaturgically. The discussion ranges from looking at historical plays, particularly Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and places them up against a small scale a club performance by UK drag performer Bourgeoisies, who also connects to an unsolidified lineage of AIDS and HIV narratives and discourses.


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