A victory for real people: dangers in the discourse of democratisation

Tomlin, L. (2018) A victory for real people: dangers in the discourse of democratisation. Journal of Contemporary Drama in English, 6(1), pp. 234-248. (doi: 10.1515/jcde-2018-0023)

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In this essay, I will examine the development of a growing trend of democratisation in British contemporary theatre that seeks to reject the expertise of playwrights, actors or professional ensembles in favour of verbatim material drawn from a range of the public selected for their ordinariness, or conceptual frameworks within which the audience themselves construct and perform the aesthetic content of the work. This essay seeks to highlight how the discursive and aesthetic framing of real people in this context can, in certain instances, be seen to reflect the construction of ‘real, ordinary people’ in the political discourse surrounding the 2016 EU Referendum in the UK. In both cases, ‘real people’ are understood to be in opposition to those who might be said to hold particular professional expertise and also, commonly, to those of a more privileged socio-economic status: the so-called ‘liberal elite’. With reference to Rimini Protokoll’s 100% Salford, The National Theatre of Great Britain’s My Country, and Kaleider’s The Money I will suggest that this particular discourse of democratisation, in both politics and theatre, can too easily conceal the expertise that lies behind the construction of ‘real people’ and their narratives.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Tomlin, Professor Elizabeth
Authors: Tomlin, L.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Journal of Contemporary Drama in English
Journal Abbr.:JCDE
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN (Online):2195-0164
Published Online:04 May 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
First Published:First published in Journal of Contemporary Drama in English 6(1):234-248
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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