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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)
World Heritage and modernity
Author: Jes Wienberg

Heritopia explores the multiple meanings of the past in the present, using the famous temples of Abu Simbel and other World Heritage sites as points of departure. It employs three perspectives in its attempt to understand and explain both past and present the truth of knowledge, the beauties of narrative, and ethical demands. Crisis theories are rejected as nostalgic expressions of contemporary social criticism. Modernity is viewed as a collection of contradictory narratives and reinterpreted as a combination of technological progress and recently evolved ideas. The book argues that while heritage is expanding, it is not to be found everywhere, and its expansion does not constitute a problem. It investigates the World Heritage Convention as an innovation, demonstrating that the definition of a World Heritage site succeeds in creating a tenable category of outstanding and exclusive heritage. The book introduces the term “Heritopia” in order to conceptualise the utopian expectations associated with World Heritage. Finally, it points to the possibilities of using the past creatively when meeting present-day and future challenges.

Open Access (free)
Postcolonial governance and the policing of family
Author: Joe Turner

Bordering intimacy is a study of how borders and dominant forms of intimacy, such as family, are central to the governance of postcolonial states such as Britain. The book explores the connected history between contemporary border regimes and the policing of family with the role of borders under European and British empires. Building upon postcolonial, decolonial and black feminist theory, the investigation centres on how colonial bordering is remade in contemporary Britain through appeals to protect, sustain and make family life. Not only was family central to the making of colonial racism but claims to family continue to remake, shore up but also hide the organisation of racialised violence in liberal states. Drawing on historical investigations, the book investigates the continuity of colonial rule in numerous areas of contemporary government – family visa regimes, the policing of sham marriages, counterterror strategies, deprivation of citizenship, policing tactics, integration policy. In doing this, the book re-theorises how we think of the connection between liberal government, race, family, borders and empire. In using Britain as a case, this opens up further insights into the international/global circulations of liberal empire and its relationship to violence.

Protection of animals in nineteenth-century Britain
Author: Diana Donald

This book explores for the first time women’s leading roles in animal protection in nineteenth-century Britain. Victorian women founded pioneering bodies such as the Battersea Dogs’ Home, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the first anti-vivisection society. They intervened directly to stop abuses, promoted animal welfare, and schooled the young in humane values via the Band of Mercy movement. They also published literature that, through strongly argued polemic or through imaginative storytelling, notably in Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, showed man’s unjustifiable cruelty to animals. In all these enterprises, they encountered opponents who sought to discredit and thwart their efforts by invoking age-old notions of female ‘sentimentality’ or ‘hysteria’, which supposedly needed to be checked by ‘masculine’ pragmatism, rationality and broadmindedness, especially where men’s field sports were concerned. To counter any public perception of extremism, conservative bodies such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for long excluded women from executive roles, despite their crucial importance as donors and grassroots activists. However, women’s growing opportunities for public work in philanthropic projects and the development of militant feminism, running in parallel with campaigns for the vote, gave them greater boldness in expressing their distinctive view of animal–human relations, in defiance of patriarchy. In analysing all these historic factors, the book unites feminist perspectives, especially constructions of gender, with the fast-developing field of animal–human history.

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
Jes Wienberg

entertaining, or whether it is morally good or evil. All that matters is what something was actually like. But when the truth of the Enlightenment is called into doubt as a legitimate motive, the beauty of the narrative and the ethical demands come into play instead. It is not apparent that an increased will to knowledge is a major reason for greater present-day interest in the past. The beauties of narrative Narratives about the past are desirable, useful, and essential. We need narratives about the past in order to understand and explain the present, meet the future

in Heritopia
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Bauman’s Levinasian turn
Ali Rattansi

There is another problem with Bauman’s ethical demand regarding sympathy for the underdog and the poor. Did Bauman think with suffering or only write about suffering? Outhwaite (2010) suggests that Bauman was more interested in the production, not the experience, of suffering. Wilkinson (2007) has argued in a short but powerful essay that Bauman’s whole style of writing about poverty and the poor, and those who suffer, detracts from his stated intention to create sympathy for them. First, as Wilkinson notes, and I too have argued, Bauman had a tendency to ignore

in Bauman and contemporary sociology