Others, Spectatorship, and the Ethics of Verbatim Performance

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5 Citations (Scopus)


In this article Patrick Duggan interrogates The Paper Birds' 2010 production Others to explore the political and ethical implications of embodying the (verbatim) texts of others. Built from a six-month exchange of letters between the company and a prisoner, a celebrity (a very non-committal Heather Mills, apparently), and an Iranian artist, Others fuses live music with verbatim and physical theatre texts to investigate the ‘otherness’ of women from vastly divergent cultural contexts. With equal measures of humour and honesty the performance deconstructs these voices both to highlight their particular concerns and problems and to interrogate larger issues relating to ‘others’ with whom we have conscious or unconscious contact. The ethical implications of continuing or discontinuing the correspondences with the three women are explored, and trauma and embodiment theories are used alongside Lévinasian and Russellian theories of ethics to ask what an encounter with such others might teach us about ourselves, about the traumatized other and about the ethics of encounter within performance texts. Patrick Duggan is Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Exeter. A practising director, he has also taught extensively in the UK and Ireland as well as in Germany and the United States. He is author of Trauma-Tragedy: Symptoms of Contemporary Performance (Manchester University Press, 2012) and co-edited Reverberations: Britishness, Aesthetics and Small-Scale Theatres (Intellect, 2013) and a special issue of the journal Performance Research ‘On Trauma’ (Taylor and Francis, 2011).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-158
JournalNew Theatre Quarterly
Issue number2
Early online date23 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


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