Electric Dreams is a theatre piece inspired by the ideas in Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, winner of the first Warwick Prize for Writing. It is a story about shock – physical, economic and political – and the ways in which shock has come to be routinely exploited as an opportunity for neoliberal structural adjustment. With Electric Dreams Dumbshow offers a sweeping theatrical journey spanning CIA-funded mind control experiments, the war in Iraq and the current destruction of the welfare state, and asks: In today’s political climate, are stories told to wake us up, or send us to sleep?
The Shock Doctrine is a central point of reference for the syllabus of States of Damage: C21 US Writing and Culture, a module in the English Department. It is, however, a genuinely interdisciplinary and international text – spanning economics, politics, history, journalism, medicine and other subjects within a global context – hence well-suited to exploration across departments and faculties at Warwick. Developing the piece through a short residency at Warwick would allow Dumbshow and the tutors of States of Damage to
- develop the presentation of ideas drawn from history, sociology and politics using innovative theatrical techniques;
- encourage interdisciplinary collaboration between departments, bringing together students and staff from the Arts faculty, the Medical School, Economics, PAIS and History to discuss the ideas in Klein’s book;
- provide a discussion focus for tutor and students in the Writing Wrongs module offered by Andrew Williams of the Law Department.
In addition to a performance of the work on campus, the Pedagogic Intervention grant would allow Dumbshow to open selected rehearsals to students for feedback and discussion, as well as to stage workshops and ‘town meeting’ events designed to facilitate the exchange of ideas on The Shock Doctrine for the benefit of the university community as a whole. Students on States of Damage may additionally wish to contribute to the Education Pack that will accompany the finished show of Electric Dreams on tour, as an educational resource.