Critical Utopian and Dystopian Thinking: Uninvited Guests’ Give Me Back My Broken Night

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paperpeer-review


Give Me Back My Broken Night takes the form of a theatrical guided tour, not of the historic past, but of the future of a place, and uses location-sensitive mobile devices. Groups of participants are told site-specific science fiction stories, both utopian and dystopian, and have the opportunity to collaboratively imagine their ideal future architecture, seeing it drawn real-time and in situ, using micro projectors and a networked drawing app. The event concludes with a fictional planning meeting, which brings together local inhabitants or users of the area, councillors, architects, planners and other stakeholders for debate around the groups’ proposals and plans.

In line with Jaap Bakema’s ideal of an open society, Give Me Back My Broken Night, stages a participatory and democratized approach to urban design and planning consultation. People take the place of architects and planners, collaboratively imagining the future of their built environment. In addition participants invent novel uses for familiar spaces, imagining radical new ways of working and socializing together. Despite our bottom up mode of design and idealized consultation being framed as science fiction, this theatre work could be applied as a model for engaging publics in participatory planning processes, to enable debates between municipalities and local people. The use of theatre as a tool enables playful, improvisatory and collaborative approaches to generating proposals for remaking places, fictional versions that can feed into real urban design and public consultancy.

Drawing on Ernst Bloch's The Principle of Hope and José Muñoz’ Cruising Utopia, Give Me Back My Broken Night considers whether visualising and speaking of utopian futures might “fuel [the] critical and potentially transformative political imagination" of a community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages30 mins
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2017
EventInternational Federation for Theatre Research: Unstable Geographies, Multiple Theatricalities - Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Duration: 10 Jul 201714 Jul 2017


ConferenceInternational Federation for Theatre Research
Abbreviated titleIFTR
CitySão Paulo


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