Being there
The ‘presence’ of trauma
in Trauma-tragedy
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This chapter seeks to explicate something of the effect of 'being there', of being at performance work that in some way addresses trauma within the trauma-tragic mode. Much like the 'reality' of Performance Art, many of the writers employ compositional and dramaturgical styles which intentionally try to create a constant sense of traumatic presence, a traumatic 'reality' through theatricality. The chapter considers three performances that are different sorts of aesthetic object. They are Blasted, His Dark Materials, and Untitled (Syncope). Each of the performances explored uses differing performance mechanisms which stimulate a visceral, corporeal experience of the live event; each performance is able to stimulate an embodied reaction within the audience. By choosing to position these three different performances side by side, the chapter suggests that the presence effect can be created in any theatrical setting, rather than to propose a certain genre of production which might achieve it.


Symptoms of contemporary performance


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