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Text Exposed: Displayed texts as players onstage in contemporary theatre

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date01/2010
JournalStudies in Theatre and Performance
Journal number1
Volume30
Number of pages14
Pages101-114
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article explores dramaturgical functions of visibly displayed text in contemporary postdramatic theatre. By analysing a variety of performance examples – from seminal performances, by the Wooster Group and Forced Entertainment, to very recent performances, by companies like Proto-type Theatre, Apocryphal Theatre and The Strange Names Collective – it identifies functions such as the opening up of gaps between source material and performance/performer and the use of text as a ‘player’ in live improvisation and as an acknowledged prompter for performativity. It proposes that exposed textuality is often used to reflect on the intensely mediatised state of our lives. Furthermore, it revisits an earlier debate about the subversion of presence by exposed writing (with reference to Elinor Fuchs) and proposes that it is more accurate to speak of a mutual infiltration of speech by writing and writing by speech/performance. Finally, it suggests that the openly exhibited tension between text and performer can be mobilized for a political aesthetic, creating spaces to expose culturally dominant ‘scripts’.