"Will We be Tested on This?": Schoolgirls, Neoliberalism and the Comic Grotesque in Swedish Contemporary Youth Theatre


  • Anna Lundberg Tema Genus, Linköping University, Sweden




Theatre, children and youth, neoliberalism, feminist cultural analysis, education


This article is based on an ethnographic participation study of the production of a play called All about the ADHD and A+ Children of Noisy Village (ännu mer om alla vi ADHD- och MVG-barn i Bullerbyn) staged at one of Sweden’s most prominent playhouses for children’s and youth theatre: ung scen/öst. Within the familiar setting of the classroom, the play takes on the challenging task of questioning and scrutinizing the complex and tangled situation of contemporary neoliberal ideas and practices, their connections to capitalism and their impact on everyday school-life. This in front of an audience consisting mainly of individuals who were not even born at the time when the political map was radically re-drawn in Berlin in 1989, and who have grown up during a period when neoliberal governance has gained increasing influence in Swedish culture and society. The play mediates its dense, political content and its descriptions of teenagers’ everyday lives through a large portion of good old-fashioned entertainment, with music, singing and bizarre, laughter-provoking situations.

The main research question to be answered in the article is: In what ways are the abstract contemporary economic-political manifestations of power and govern-ance expressed in this good-humored play for youth, and how can this be read from a feminist perspective? Hence, the article circles around three nodes that intersect in various ways: theatre, economic-political issues and feminist perspectives. The theoretical framework of the article is primarily based on a merger between, on the one hand, feminist social science and, on the other, feminist cultural analysis.


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Theme: Feminist Cultural Studies