ABSTRACT

We live in a forensic turn in which ideas of truth are increasingly tied to techniques of verification. In this cultural turn, ‘attention has shifted from the physiological intricacies of the subject position to narratives led by things, traces, objects and algorithms’ (Weizman 2017: 83). So where does this leave theatrical performance, as a medium to which (what theorist of forensic aesthetics Eyal Weizman has called) ‘the physiological intricacies of the subject position’ are usually seen as integral? Contemporary theatre, like so much of contemporary life, is obsessed with the processing of evidence, with means of detection, with the packaging of information, with how knowledge circulates. Across genres as superficially distinct as verbatim theatre, intermedial performance art, musical theatre, intimately immersive theatre, and neo-naturalistic playwriting, a common trend can be observed: theatre-makers have moved away from assertions of what is true and attended instead to questions about how truth is identified. Although they respond in strikingly diverse ways to the forensic turn, many of these theatre-makers—as this book will explore—critique and resist the equation of truth with verifiability.