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Performing the Testimonial: Rethinking verbatim dramaturgies

Stuart Fisher, Amanda (2020) Performing the Testimonial: Rethinking verbatim dramaturgies. Theatre: theory, practice, performance . MUP, Manchester. ISBN 9781526145741

Abstract

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 re-locates 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 move beyond psychoanalytical accounts of trauma and re-imagine testimony and witnessing as part of a decolonised project that looks beyond event based trauma, addressing instead of the experience of suffering wrought by racism and other forms of social injustice.

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