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Experiencing Nationlessness: Staging the Migrant Condition in Some Recent British Theatre

Cornford, Tom (2018) Experiencing Nationlessness: Staging the Migrant Condition in Some Recent British Theatre. Journal of Contemporary Drama in English, 6 (1). pp. 101-122. ISSN 2195-0164

Abstract

This article explores some recent representations of migrants and migration in British Theatre, specifically: Zinnie Harris' How To Hold Your Breath (Royal Court, 2015), Isango Ensemble's A Man of Good Hope (Young Vic, 2016), and Zodwa Nyoni's Nine Lives (Oron Mor/West Yorkshire Playhouse, 2014). It applies Tim Ingold's critique of 'containment' and Julia Kristeva's idea of the 'abject' and 'deject' to critique representations of displacement and migrant experience that implicitly privilege a white, western perspective and position migrants as others as against an assumed normality of identity considered as a consequence of containment within borders. The article goes on to ask how theatre may represent the condition of nationlessness, and offers Nyoni's Nine Lives as an example of how performance may enable identity to be reframed not as the experience of containment within borders (of self and nation), but as a consequence of movement across them.

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