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‘I laugh, therefore I think’: The Power of Comedy in the Twenty-first Century

‘I laugh, therefore I think’: The Power of Comedy in the Twenty-first Century

IATC Conference at festCO – Bucharest, Romania

2-3 June 2017

All along its history, comedy has been a driving force for the spirit of humankind. From ancient Greek theatre to contemporary performance, from local settings to the global stage, the comic has defied cultural prejudice and even contempt as a “minor genre” and acted as a counterbalance to the intensity of tragedy or indeed to the often suffocating pressures of social life. In times of political crises, the power of comedy to convey subversive messages always proves to be a sign of hope and freedom, when hope is challenged and freedom restricted or severely controlled. Through comedy, some of the great truths have always found a way to be expressed on stage, accompanied by the liberating sound of laughter. Apart from being entertaining, great comedy has the ability to make people think for themselves, about themselves and each other. Without it, not only theatre, but the world itself would be a different, certainly much poorer place.

Organised by the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC) in the framework of the Comedy Festival of Bucharest (festCO), this conference invites critics and scholars from around the world to discuss the meaning of stage comedy in the twenty-first century, between local specificity and the global context. Intended as a celebration of comedy, it will ask most serious questions about its actual implications, which often transcend the boundaries of this rich genre:

  • Is it theatre’s duty to change or at least confront society through comedy?
  • In strict, authoritarian societies, is comedy an effective form of criticism or an expression of complacency?
  • How can comedy negotiate the perils of extremism and discuss various cultural, political and not least religious taboos?
  • Is there a new definition of stage irony from a postdramatic point of view?
  • To what degree does mass culture influence this genre in contemporary theatre?

Conference Co-Chairs: Margareta Sörenson (Sweden, President of IATC) and Octavian Saiu (Romania).