Embodying Agonism in Lucy Kirkwood’s Mosquitoes and The Welkin

Clare Wallace



Rooted in Chantal Mouffe’s conceptualisation of agonistic pluralism and Jacques Rancière’s work on dissensus, this article analyses the debate scenes of British playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s plays: Mosquitoes (2017) and The Welkin (2020). In Performing Antagonism Tony Fisher suggests that the politics of theatre and performance has formally pivoted towards “a critical politics of the visible.” The article asks what this implies in Kirkwood’s drama. In a contradictory present conjuncture where multiple forms of crisis overlap and interact, Kirkwood’s recent work hones polarised, gendered, antagonistic scenes of encounter where the challenges of dialogue, of understanding and of ethical relations are repeatedly articulated. Through close attention to the ways agonism and antagonism are embodied in the plays, the article argues that for Kirkwood dissensus operates to enact a feminist “critical politics of the visible” in which mutual recognition and resilience are keynotes.


agonism, dissensus, dialogue, Lucy Kirkwood, Mosquitoes, The Welkin, Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière.




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