This book examines how new performance practices from the 1990s to the present day have been driven by questions of the real and the ensuing political implications of the concept's rapidly disintegrating authority. The first part of the book addresses the existing poststructuralist narrative of radicalism that currently dominates contemporary performance theory, and seeks to deconstruct its conclusions. It first traces the artistic and philosophical developments that laid the ground for the sustained twentieth-century interrogations of theatrical representations of the real. It examines the emergence of the discursive act which aligned the narrative of radicalism exclusively with such interrogations. The book also examines how key strands of Derrida's poststructuralist critique have been applied to performance practice to strengthen the ideological binary opposition between 'dramatic' representations of the real and 'postdramatic' deconstructions of representational practice. The second part of the book embarks on an ideological examination of a wide spectrum of performance models that share an engagement with the problematics of representation and the real. It directs this investigation specifically towards an analysis of the representations of 'real' people in performances which adopt verbatim methodologies drawn from the documentary theatre tradition. The book continues to explore performance environments that break down the dichotomy of performer/spectator and seeks to replace mediated representations with experiential realities.
is scarcely a new venture. Whether defined as poststructuralist or
postmodernist, the late twentieth-century scepticism of ‘the real’ has long
come under sustained attack from Marxist critics, such as Christopher
Norris, for its ‘wholesale collapse of moral and intellectual nerve’
(2000: 19). Likewise, in the field of performance, the early opposition
of socialist artists and scholars to the discrediting of Marxist ideology
and dramatic representation that was central to the poststructuralistnarrative of radicalism has not altogether been
Questions of mimesis, authorship and representation
its own representational structures and
narratives, and examines all notions of the real. Such practice will form
the basis of part two of this book, and will demonstrate, through its diversity of form, that poststructuralist interrogation is not restricted to work
that might qualify as postdramatic under current prevailing definitions.
Throughout the remainder of this study, I will be interrogating the
poststructuralistnarrative on its own terms in order to challenge the
notion that its deconstructive project inevitably results in radical practice