SPEAK OUT – Gender takes center stage

What’s different scares us, but also makes us curious. Like ignorance generates fear, so does understanding lead to acceptance. And creates the possibility for beauty.

In the SpeakOUT series, performing artists and academics from China and abroad turn the spotlight on gender. What does it mean to “perform gender” in our daily life? How does the body “talk” on stage? How are gender norms changing around the world? And what role can performing arts play in this change?


Like actors in a play, it is not our physical body that creates our “character” within society. Through costumes, make-up, the tone of voice and quality of the movements, each of us perform a role (man, woman) that changes in different scenes (single, married, wife, son, etc). If we follow the script we get to play the Goody (a Real Man, a Respectable Woman etc). If we don’t, we are left with the Villain or the Misfit (the Pervert, the Spinster etc).

But what if we wanted a different plot? What if we threw away stock characters and create a multifaceted role for ourselves? Like Nora says in “Doll’s House”, before all else, before all roles and labels, we are human beings. We have the power to change the script, and make our life an unforgettable show.





“Bodies matter”, as Judith Butler points out. For artists who employ their bodies in performance, how to identify, perceive, and present their bodies is vital for the creativity, authenticity, and expression of their art works. Living in a heteronormative social environment where various walls have been erected (heterosexuality VS homosexuality, normal VS pervert, legal VS illegal), artists need to question their socially given subjectivity in order to achieve a breakthrough. In this context “queer” refer not only to sexual and gender minorities, but also to the abnormality, deviance, and alternative ideologies and lifestyles of marginal communities. The “performance of queerness” can produce an effect of theatricality, as a sign empty of meaning and the meaning of all signs.


In this lecture, Dr. Wang introduces the theoretical basics of queer theory and its intersection with performance/performativity. Moreover, he explores how the dance-theatre performance “Disco-TECA” fuses academic research, stage craft, and offstage activity together, thus perform the performativity of sexuality, gender, and queer in the “carnivalesque” of Disco from the 1980s to the 2010s.

Curator: Fabrizio Massini
Produced by: Ibsen International


8th May, 14:00
Location:Xiaozhong Bookstore, Beijing

About the Lecturer: Dr. QIAN WANG


Qian Wang. Dr Qian Wang earned his PhD in popular music studies from the Institute of Popular Music, the University of Liverpool, and did his post-doctoral research at the Department of Sociology, Tsinghua University. He is currently a visiting scholar at the School of Literature and Journalism, Sichuan University, and a visiting scholar of Fudan Journalism School. His research is mainly focused on the interrelationship between Chinese/Sinophone popular music and China’s society. He is interested in issues such as sexuality, gender, queer, politics, and social movements, which objectively reflect the transformation of China since the economic reform in 1979.

In 2015 Qian joined Ibsen International’s dance theatre performance “Disco-Teca” as a cultural consultant. Besides providing the artistic team with in-depth knowledge about disco music’s social, political and cultural context, Qian follows the production to give lectures and attend Q&A discussion, thus giving this production a truly interdisciplinary (performative+academic) profile.