The experience of immediacy: emotion and enlistment in fact-based theatre

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Taylor, Lib (2011)

This article discusses emotion as a strategy of political agency in post-Thatcherite documentary theatre. The 1990s saw a renaissance in theatre writing based in directness and immediacy but based in two quite different forms of drama, In-Yer-Face theatre and fact-based drama. There are clear distinctions between these forms: the new brutalist writing was aggressively provocative; documentary theatre engaged the audience by revealing an urgent truth. Both claimed a kind of realism that confronted actuality, be that of situation or experience, through forms of theatre that cultivated emotional engagement. In-Yer-Face theatre used emotional shock to penetrate the numb cynicism that its creators perceived. Documentary theatre used observation and the cultivation of sympathy to enlist its audience in a shared understanding of what was hidden, not understood or not noticed. The article analyses the functioning of emotional enlistment to engage the audience politically in two examples of documentary theatre, Black Watch and Guantanamo
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