Breaking Boundaries: Contemporary Theatre and the Fluidity of Identity

The paper focuses on the role of contemporary theatre in exploring human identities. Through representative examples of dramatic texts, as well as various forms of theatrical activity, it attempts to redefine the role of theatre in a world where the fixed categories of race, gender, and sexuality are increasingly being questioned due to rapid social change, globalization, technological advancements, and critical theories.

From marginalized communities to underrepresented voices, contemporary playwrights and artists strive to depict the richness and diversity of human experience on stage. Through inclusive casting, intersectional storytelling, and authentic representation, contemporary theatre expands the boundaries of identity, challenging dominant narratives, and amplifying voices that have historically been silenced or marginalized.

The first part of the article examines the relevant theatrical developments in Greece from the perspectives of dramaturgy and theatrical practice. Then, the focus shifts to the analysis of Robert Icke’s play The Doctor, based on Professor Bernhardi by Arthur Schnitzler, as a representative example of theatre addressing issues of identity. The play premiered in 2019 at London’s Almeida Theatre and received excellent reviews from both critics and audiences. It was also performed in Athens during the 2023-24 theatre season, ‘shaking things up’ in Greek theatre. At the core of the play, two pivotal issues are skillfully addressed.

Firstly, there is an exploration of whether the sanctity of medical ethics outweighs all other considerations. Secondly, there is a discussion surrounding the peril of continually engaging in identity politics. Starting from the collision between the rationalities of science and the sanctities of religion, Icke expands upon the original work to tackle not only religious themes, as happens in Schnitzler’s work, but also those of race, gender, and socioeconomic class.

The play does not aim to provide answers or to embrace ambiguity and the ever-shifting nature of identity but rather to reflect on the fluidity of identities today, highlighting the absurdity of non-meritocratic initiatives aimed at achieving racial and gender balance, which can often lead to the derailment of talented individuals due to social media controversies and the timidity of any kind of leadership.