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Discourses on the real in performance practice and theory, 1990–2010
Author: Liz Tomlin

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.

Abstract only
Liz Tomlin

of poststructuralism 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 poststructuralist narrative of radicalism has not altogether been

in Acts and apparitions
Questions of mimesis, authorship and representation
Liz Tomlin

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 poststructuralist narrative on its own terms in order to challenge the notion that its deconstructive project inevitably results in radical practice

in Acts and apparitions