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Rethinking verbatim dramaturgies

Responding to the resurgence of verbatim theatre that emerged in Britain, Australia, the United States and other parts of the world in the early 1990s, this book offers one of the first sustained, critical engagements with contemporary verbatim, documentary and testimonial dramaturgies. Offering a new reading of the history of the documentary and verbatim theatre form, the book relocates verbatim and testimonial theatre away from discourses of the real and representations of reality and instead argues that these dramaturgical approaches are better understood as engagements with forms of truth-telling and witnessing. Examining a range of verbatim and testimonial plays from different parts of the world, the book develops new ways of understanding the performance of testimony and considers how dramaturgical theatre can bear witness to real events and individual and communal injustice through the re-enactment of personal testimony. Through its interrogation of different dramaturgical engagements with acts of witnessing, the book identifies certain forms of testimonial theatre that move beyond psychoanalytical accounts of trauma and reimagine testimony and witnessing as part of a decolonised project that looks beyond event-based trauma, addressing instead the experience of suffering wrought by racism and other forms of social injustice.

Performing the ethico-political imperatives of witnessing
Amanda Stuart Fisher

(2007) and theorisation developed by the Danish philosopher Knud Ejler Løgstrup (1997) to argue that relationships of trust are a necessary element of any dramaturgical process that stages other people’s testimony and which engages with the riskiness of parrhesiastic acts of witnessing. Importing some of the ethical theories developed by these two philosophers into my engagement with testimonial performance, I develop an account of what I describe as the ‘ethical demand of testimonial practice’, a framework that establishes the key co-ordinates of a collaborative

in Performing the testimonial
Open Access (free)
Fluidity and reciprocity in the performance of caring in Fevered Sleep’s Men & Girls Dance
Amanda Stuart Fisher

on to encounters between men and girls and replaces the adult risk anxiety associated with this with care-filled interactions that generate moments of togetherness, marked out by a mode of tender and reciprocal caring. In so doing, performed care emerges in this production as a mode of resistance, opening up new understandings about structures of caregiving and care receiving in performance and rethinking the ethical demands of working within contexts of vulnerability and risk. One of the key ways that Men & Girls Dance reconsiders the dynamics of the encounter

in Performing care
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Performing witnessing in a post-truth era
Amanda Stuart Fisher

on the structure of ethical experience and the ethical demand in particular into my engagement with testimonial theatre making, I have developed a conceptualisation of what I describe as the ‘ethical demand of testimonial practice’. This, then, becomes a means of thinking through the challenges and opportunities of developing ethical relationships of trust between the theatre maker and testimonial subject when developing the dramaturgical processes of testimonial performance. While the era of post-truth discourse will continue to place increasing pressures on those

in Performing the testimonial
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Performing the ‘promise’ of truthfulness: the hybrid practices of contemporary verbatim and testimonial theatre
Amanda Stuart Fisher

: Staging promises and the ethical demand of testimony Etymologically, the word ‘verbatim’ derives from the Latin term verbum, meaning ‘word’ and today denotes the spoken repetition of a written or spoken phrase repeated precisely and word-for-word. When coupled with the word ‘theatre’, ‘verbatim’ describes the way certain play-making processes are undertaken, pointing to a set of dramaturgical processes that are both iterative and appropriative, where real stories are researched, recorded and/or transcribed and used as the material for a play. ‘Verbatim’ also has a

in Performing the testimonial
Jeffrey Wainwright

. 7). What is the justice of the ethical demand Hill puts upon his work? Night and fog it ís then, comrades ( SpSp 88) In the seventh section of The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy Hill quotes his protagonist: ‘Péguy said / “why do I write of war? | Simply because / I have not been there”’ ( CP p. 192). There is a voice in The Triumph of Love which sees the prominence of the two world wars, the Shoah, and other extremities in Hill’s poetry as ‘obsession’: ‘This is quite dreadful – he’s become obsessed

in Acceptable words
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‘Churchill’s Funeral’ and ‘De Jure Belli ac Pacis’ (Canaan, 1996)
Jeffrey Wainwright

task, every detail of the weights, rhythms, contexts and histories of the words in which the poet’s subject consist can be registered. The ethical demand upon the poem is to use the leisure of this attention to be part of the exploration Rose speaks of, and it is this that gives it the quality of an act. Nevertheless, memorial must seem, although the most compelled, still the most impotent of poetic acts: ‘What shall the poet say, / what words inscribe upon your monument?’ cries Hecuba in Euripides’ Trojan Women . Discussing Hecuba’s lament, Martha Nussbaum dwells

in Acceptable words
Towards the decolonisation of testimonial theatre
Amanda Stuart Fisher

witnessing, I argue, it becomes possible to rethink and better understand the political and ethical demands of testimonial practices and the multiple modes of witnessing that shape contemporary approaches to testimonial theatre making. The ‘era of testimony’: The rise of the psychoanalytic witness In Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History (Felman and Laub, 1992), literary theorist Shoshana Felman describes living in an era that is one ‘precisely defined as the age of testimony’ (Felman, 1992: 5). Published just one year before the first

in Performing the testimonial
Transhistorical empathy and the Chaucerian face
Louise D’Arcens

empathic affiliation with him. It should not be surprising that the author’s face would be a locus of intersubjective affinity for those who claim to have a transhistorical empathic encounter with him. Many who work on the intersubjective experience of encountering the face cite Emmanuel Levinas’s quasi-theological account in Totality and Infinity of the ethical demand made by the face of the Other and its ineluctable alterity, which compels a response that transcends Chaucer as Catholic Transhistorical empathy childand Chaucer’s face 207 one’s own subjectivity.19 But

in Contemporary Chaucer across the centuries
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Emergencies and spectatorship
Sam Haddow

image and the ‘thing’ of theatre. Both trade on representation, certainly, and both open themselves up to reading, but amongst their manifold differences there is a key distinction in the ways in which they approach what Levinas referred to as the ‘face’. This is not necessarily the actual face of a person, but rather the point of communication through which the person is approached and apprehended. For Levinas, the face makes an ethical demand upon the self because it provokes fear, as the boundary to the other, but also reminds us of our responsibility to the other

in Precarious spectatorship