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Electric Dreams: Performing The Shock Doctrine

Nick LawrenceElectric Dreams is a project of Dumbshow Theatre Company, founded by graduates of Warwick's Department of English. The project is inspired by the ideas in Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, winner of the first Warwick Prize for Writing in 2010. 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. As part of a two-week residency at Warwick, company members developed a script for the show in tandem with the English module States of Damage: C21 US Writing and Culture, which features Klein's text on its syllabus, as well as gathering information and hosting activities with staff and students from across the university. With Electric Dreams Dumbshow aimed to articulate a complex 50-year history in theatrical form, spanning CIA-funded mind-control experiments, the war in Iraq and the current destruction of the welfare state. The piece asks: In today's political climate, are stories told to wake us up, or to send us to sleep?

As part of their preparation for the show, Dumbshow led open rehearsals, a theatre workshop on adaptation and an interdisciplinary roundtable discussion on neoliberalism in theory and practice, inviting participants from the Politics, Economics, Sociology and English departments. The residency closed with a performance of the work in progress before an audience drawn from several departments in the Arts and Social Science faculties. Future plans for this work include performances at Camden People's Theatre, the Edinburgh Fringe and Warwick Arts Centre.

Nick Lawrence teaches American studies, world literature and critical theory in the Department of English & Comparative Literary Studies.