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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.

Towards the decolonisation of testimonial theatre
Amanda Stuart Fisher

desperately needed. While I wanted also to show the strength and the resilience of these mothers, I felt it important that the play also bore witness to the psycho-social impact of sexual abuse and the trauma this precipitated across the family. In this sense, the challenges of writing From the Mouths of Mothers revealed the problematic of moving beyond the binary of the unlucky victim and liberated spectator as outlined by Boltanski in his discussion of the ‘politics of pity’ (2004). To conceptualise a theatre of testimony that can move Theatre of witnessing 117

in Performing the testimonial
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The pursuit of justice in Russian documentary theatre
Molly Flynn

theatre inspired two later sub-genres of documentary theatre, ‘theatre of testimony’ in the US and ‘tribunal theatre’ in the UK. Developed by American director Emily Mann, theatre of testimony creates the space for a community of artists and audiences to come together and re-negotiate the narratives of their recent pasts. Mann’s repertoire includes verbatim and fictional plays, but her play Execution of Justice (1984–86) made an important contribution to the form by staging the trial of Dan White, assassin of both Harvey Milk and San Francisco mayor George Moscone

in Witness onstage