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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.

Joanne Paul

themselves: they ought to speak truth to power but doing so in non-ideal circumstances could lead to that counsel being ignored, or, worse, to their imprisonment or death. The key word often used to describe such dangerous counsel was parrhesia, variously understood as ‘plain speaking’ or ‘liberty of speech’. No Tudor writer had more to say about counsel and frank speech than Thomas Elyot, whose thought on the topic was shaped by the increasingly restricted space for counsel-giving in England in the 1530s.3 Elyot, especially in his writings of 1533, tackled both the

in Freedom of speech, 1500–1850
Performing the ethico-political imperatives of witnessing
Amanda Stuart Fisher

used by minoritarian communities to highlight and expose the injustices and violence these communities are subjected to by state agencies, such as the police. Smith’s enactment of Niya is carefully and skilfully undertaken, producing a compelling performance of an angry young woman who is determined to call out the injustice she observes. In her enactment, Smith positions Niya not only as a witness to this event, but as someone performing what Michel Foucault describes as parrhesia; a mode of truth telling in which the parrhesiastes, the speaker, risks everything to

in Performing the testimonial
David Womersley

to free speech or parrhesia could be exhilarating and inspiring. But they tended also to be, on inspection, scrupulously qualified. Only some people might speak freely, and they might do so on only a limited range of topics, at carefully-defined times, in specified places and to selected audiences. For example, consider the phrasing of statements relating to free speech (parrhesia) in three plays by Euripides.5 The first is spoken by Phaedra, in Hippolytus: I want my two sons to go back and live in glorious Athens, hold their heads high there, and speak their minds

in Freedom of speech, 1500–1850
Peter Lake

to counsel the prince. Here was the classic locus, perhaps the only locus outside the Council chamber or the court, in which the subject could exercise parrhesia, the frank or free speech which all good counsellors owed to their princes. Again, this was public business; quintessentially concerned with the public, that is with the common good, and, in certain aspects, justified by the claim that what was being presented here for royal consideration represented the grievances of the subject. What the prince was learning about in these exchanges was the truth about

in Freedom of speech, 1500–1850
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Conversation, friendship and democratic possibilities
Ruth Sheldon

read? From 1918 …’ I paused before beginning; I was accustomed to remaining silent at public meetings in this fieldwork and my own voice sounded alien to me. Yet now, when in contrast to my guarded exchange with Justin (discussed in Chapter 2) I confessed myself unable to pronounce the Hebrew words, Sahir and Simone again responded in unison. In this way, their shared knowledge of this language undermined their ostensibly opposed positions. Ordinary ethics 153 Parrhesia: speaking frankly and truthfully We moved rapidly through the events of the 1930s, with Sahir

in Tragic encounters and ordinary ethics
David Como

’, they did not intend what twenty-first-century people mean. Instead, they were generally inspired by classical rhetoric, in particular the figure of parrhesia, which had been developed in ancient Greece and transmitted via Roman rhetoricians and the New Testament. Here ‘freedom of speech’ meant not freedom from external coercion or censorship, in the way moderns tend to imagine it, but something more like ‘boldness of speech’, willingness to speak frankly, even in the face of danger. The definitive study of this motif is David Colclough’s elegant Freedom of Speech in

in Freedom of speech, 1500–1850
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Good relations, freespeech and political activism
Ruth Sheldon

meanings, a person asking a question could mean just what they said (Cavell 2002).4 My suggestion is that this kind of encounter depends on qualities of courage and care which emerge within relationships and cannot be guaranteed in advance (Cavell 1990). As Foucault (2001) discussed in his lectures on ‘parrhesia’, this requires us to take risks in relation to both the dangers of self-​judgement and the possibility of judgement by others. For example, writing about this conversation for the unknown readership of this book feels dangerous; I risk angering people whose

in Tragic encounters and ordinary ethics
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The tension in making and realising a city
Jessica Symons

lives must be more carefully identified. A better understanding of local processes would further enable mediation between all citizens as they seek to realise their aspirations. Ethnography can find out what is happening ‘on the ground’ and provide insight. This in turn will enable supporting and nurturing people to allow a more democratic city to emerge and take its shape. References Badiou, Alain. 2007. “The event in Deleuze”. Parrhesia 2: 37–44. Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. 1987. Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Vol. 2. Minneapolis

in Realising the city
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Performing witnessing in a post-truth era
Amanda Stuart Fisher

witnessing’, the ‘witness-narrator’ and ‘witnessing as resistance’, I have developed an account of three different modes of witnessing that enable us to think through what the genealogical development of these practices reveals regarding the ethico-political imperatives that constitute each of these modes of witnessing and the dramaturgical structures that determine them. The performance of witnessing has great political potential because it can stage what Foucault describes as acts of parrhesia, where the witness Conclusion 185 speaks truth to power and speaks out

in Performing the testimonial