Finding Our Niche in Trauma

Blasted as an epitome of a kind of intimate theatre, which ends up raising a range of new political questions with regard to Black Watch – in a sense it’s Artaud to Brecht … does it seem like this is a way of really digging into what theatre can do?

CW: even though there’s a lot of disagreement about what people thought about it

Emilia: It’s also just thing kind of work that defines – and creates – a notion of community, which is in turn feeding into political impact

W1/Tara: isn’t it like journalism?  what’s the difference between this theatre and what I would find in a journalistic account?  the description of these pieces as “realistic” just makes me wonder what the intent is.

CW: a lot of documentary theatre is actually really more complicated – both in terms of synthesis, but also in terms of actual art – there’s music, there’s a complicated narrative.  the story of The Civilians’ Brooklyn at Eye Level and the way it did actually bring together a really large and conflicted community.

M10: when we say something is political theatre, what are we hoping to get out of it?  this isn’t 1969 – what would we imagine a real political theatre to be?

DL: isn’t this Weil’s whole issue?  All of this is geared to making people aware of an injustice – can you actually make people aware of it in a way that takes their awareness to a new level, to action?

W3: as opposed to Sarah Kane, who’s a British moralist.

DL: when you see someone doing performance art, you may be stunned or impressed, but you don’t usually feel empathy.  but the same “events” on stage move you in a different way.  Can we compare, for example, Dustin Hoffman’s method acting for Marathon Man to Weil’s attempt to work in factories to raise her own awareness.

W5: but I think she’s doing that work for her own soul, not for a performance

Emilia: there’s no one-size-fits-all for political theatre – I’m happy if there’s an epiphany of “O I didn’t realize that” – a slight change is enough, it doesn’t have to be someone going out and setting bombs or staging protests.

W1: it’s about whether something’s persuasive.

M8: but it seems like the Civilians show is about showing a broad view, not persuading people

M4: and also, the Exonerated was also only part of a large communal campaign to change the death penalty – a piece of theatre also exists in an environment.  it doesn’t have to decide whether it’s fictional or real.

DL: or maybe it does …

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