Fandom and Theatre (1/15/20; 3/15/21)


This special issue of TWC explores intersections between theatrical performance and fandom. Though ephemeral, theatre creates an affective experience known as “ghosting,” where fan memory is embedded and encoded in the objects of performance: actors, roles, scripts, costumes, productions, and props. The process of sustaining such fan memory recognizes the participatory and playful impulses that categorize fandom and fan culture as fans travel from one performance to the next carrying these ghosts along with them.

Theatres and their spaces encompass a wide variety of fandoms: celebrity performers, writers, particular plays, and even theatre companies cultivate loyal fan bases who support their work. Theatre engenders rich crossovers and transformations, as screen actors, musicians, and other celebrities bring their fandoms to playhouses, stages, and auditoriums. Interactive theatrical experiences like Sleep No More permit fans to become part of the performance itself, while technology, such as live-streaming, and paratexts, such as the cast album, allow for theatrical fandoms to include participants who have yet to set foot in the theatre itself.

In fact, performance is increasingly recognized as something manifest outside of playhouses. Fannish cosplay offers an opportunity to perform fandom. Fan auteurs, such as Kenneth Branagh, or Lin Manuel Miranda, create both their celebrity identity and their cultural output. YouTube celebrities perform their identities and lives for a viewing audience. Social media encourages a performance of spectatorship, such as acts of live-tweeting events. Thinking of fandom in the context of the theatre challenges us to rethink fundamental assumptions of affective fandom to incorporate and think more critically about ritualized fan practices that manifest themselves in acts of shipping, activism and the assemblage of fan communities.

This issue welcomes papers that examine the relationship between fandom and theatrical performance. Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • Broadway
  • Shakespeare
  • Cabaret
  • Musical theatre
  • Hamilton
  • Cosplay
  • Disney plays
  • Fans as performers
  • YouTube fandom
  • Theatrical adaptations
  • Racebent and/or genderbent casting
  • Playhouses and companies
  • Theatrical memorabilia
  • Actor/Musician RPF & shipping
  • Performing race and gender in fan communities


Submission guidelines Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC, is an international peer-reviewed online Gold Open Access publication of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works copyrighted under a Creative Commons License. TWC aims to provide a publishing outlet that welcomes fan-related topics and to promote dialogue between the academic community and the fan community. TWC accommodates academic articles of varying scope as well as other forms that embrace the technical possibilities of the Web and test the limits of the genre of academic writing.

Theory: Conceptual essays. Peer review, 6,000–8,000 words.

Praxis: Case study essays. Peer review, 5,000–7,000 words.

Symposium: Short commentary. Editorial review, 1,500–2,500 words. 

Please visit TWC's Web site ( for complete submission guidelines, or e-mail the TWC Editor (editor AT

Contact—Contact guest editors Balaka Basu (bbasu AT and Louise Geddes (lgeddes AT

Due date—January 15, 2020, for estimated March 15, 2021 publication.