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Shifting dramaturgies and performances of truthfulness
Amanda Stuart Fisher

2 The genealogy of contemporary verbatim theatre: shifting dramaturgies and performances of truthfulness In the previous chapter, I examined how some key German documentary plays of the 1960s, The Deputy, In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer and The Investigation, should be understood as forming a pre-history for the contemporary verbatim theatre that appeared in the UK, Australia, the United States and in other parts of the world in the 1990s. Written by a post-war generation of playwrights, with many of them directed by Erwin Piscator, these documentary

in Performing the testimonial
Piscator, Hochhuth and Weiss
Amanda Stuart Fisher

1 Germany and the pre-histories of contemporary verbatim theatre: Piscator, Hochhuth and Weiss Forms don’t die, they change and reappear. (Weiss in Munk, Weiss and Gray, 1966: 110) When asked in an interview about the dramaturgical approaches he adopted when writing his Auschwitz play The Investigation Peter Weiss responded by arguing that certain historical situations and events required particular forms of dramatic response. In order to write a play about Auschwitz, Weiss suggests, he had to move away from ‘individualistic characters’, turning instead to the

in Performing the testimonial
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.

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Performing the ‘promise’ of truthfulness: the hybrid practices of contemporary verbatim and testimonial theatre
Amanda Stuart Fisher

narratives of the past. Described by various theatre critics as either a ‘documentary play’ (Anthony, 2017), ‘a theatrical docu-drama’ (Bloodworth, 2017), or simply as ‘verbatim’ (Wicker, 2017), like many other examples of contemporary verbatim or testimonial theatre, Minefield resists any simple definition. While the veterans do tell their own stories within the course of the play, in an interview, Arias distinguishes her practice from that of a verbatim theatre maker by pointing out that she ‘doesn’t simply take people’s words and give them to an actor to say. Rather she

in Performing the testimonial
Towards the decolonisation of testimonial theatre
Amanda Stuart Fisher

her plays. It was an interesting and illuminating discussion in which I was struck by some of the key differences between the methodologies of verbatim and testimonial theatre making. In my approach to writing From the Mouths of Mothers I followed a fairly typical verbatim theatre approach, drawing on interviews undertaken with seven mothers whom I had got to know through my engagement 102 Towards testimonial theatre with Mosac, a charity that supports non-abusing parents and carers of sexually abused children.1 In the process of writing the play, I edited

in Performing the testimonial
An ‘aesthetics of care’ through aural attention
Sylvan Baker and Maggie Inchley

I’ve literally become a catalogue of statistics, and just irrelevant facts and info. And it’s dehumanising to be honest. If adults don’t really view you as a human then how can you view yourself? … Right now, according to the system, kids have become just another number, another statistic, and it’s not whether a child is being cared for, it’s whether they’re being dealt with. (Leah, fourteen years old, TVF Audio Archive: 2015–18) 1 The Verbatim Formula (TVF) is an ongoing verbatim theatre-based participatory research project founded in 2015 at Queen Mary

in Performing care
Performing the ethico-political imperatives of witnessing
Amanda Stuart Fisher

of David Oluwale (2009), a contrasting approach is adopted and by turning away from verbatim theatre, Oladipo Agboluaje draws on a poetics of witnessing to establish a dramaturgical approach in which David Oluwale re-emerges from the dead to embody a mode of parrhesia and speaks out about his death and the racist violence he endured when alive. Through this use of the revenant as parrhesiastes, Agboluaje moves the audience beyond an empathic engagement with a victim of crime and instead reconstructs a witness who speaks truth to power in a dramaturgy that resists

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

foregrounds the actors’ experiences of gender and sexuality, it also moves beyond a predetermined process of reiteration found in verbatim theatre. Consequently, the testimonial accounts of the actors’ lived experiences combine with the effect of their bodies in the space, operating together to explore a way of speaking out against the oppressive social and medical structures that have sought to oppress or regulate these young people’s sense of self. Through the adoption of music and dance and the conscious dismantling of the markers of normative biographical chronology

in Performing the testimonial
Open Access (free)
Caring performance, performing care
Amanda Stuart Fisher

precarity’ the children exist within, while also performing ‘relational infrastructures of care that seek to work against this’. Part IV , ‘Care as performance’, begins with Chapter 10 by Sylvan Baker and Maggie Inchley, exploring how caring performance practices can become a form of resistance to the precarity of care experienced by young people who are being looked after by the state. In their discussion of The Verbatim Formula , Inchley and Baker consider how they use verbatim theatre techniques to intervene in the ‘care-less’ processes of state care that often

in Performing care
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Theatre and protest in Putin’s Russia
Molly Flynn

also be observed in the dozens of regional verbatim theatre projects that have emerged across the country addressing local issues connected to institutional corruption, environmental concerns, and social welfare. So far, Witness onstage has analysed the active and transformative nature of documentary theatre during these years by focusing on the mechanics of individual plays in performance. Through close readings and performance analysis, this study has illustrated how Russia’s twentyfirst-century documentary theatre artists use the form as a way to address key

in Witness onstage