‘Truth’, Technology and Transmedial Theatre in Europe

Scheer, Anna and O'Gorman, Siobhan (2021) ‘Truth’, Technology and Transmedial Theatre in Europe. Studies in Theatre and Performance: “Performance and the Right: Strategies and Subterfuges”, 41 (3). pp. 263-280. ISSN 1468-2761

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/14682761.2021.1964850

‘Truth’, Technology and Transmedial Theatre in Europe
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Recent scholarship has expanded upon the concept of populism as performance to include a focus on how it employs digital technologies (Baldwin-Philippi, 2018). However, a relatively unexplored dimension is the consideration of the relationship between political and ‘artistic’ or theatrical performances of populism. If the latter appropriate right-wing populist discourse to potentially parody how it frames its nationalist rhetoric as an ‘appeal to “the people,”’ how do the relationships between performers and spectator-participants differ from those forged through the public manifestations of populist politics? (Canovan, 1999) How have artists who engage with populism employed technology to increase the reach and interactivity of their performances, and how does this seek to undermine, and/or generate a troubling ‘belief’ in, the supposed ‘reality’ of such projects? In 2000, the late German artist Christoph Schlingensief created an international controversy with his performance event Please Love Austria–first European coalition week! in which a group of asylum-seekers were transported to a container located in the centre of Vienna where they would reside for seven days. Via a dedicated internet website, Austrians were invited to vote out the foreigner they wished to see ‘deported’ the most. This public action, which sought to mirror the anti-immigration policies of Jörg Haider’s populist, far-right Freedom Party Austria (FPÖ), was reported worldwide to the detriment of Austria’s preferred centre-right, bourgeois national image. In 2010, Tallinn-based theatre company, Theatre NO99, began a 44-day-long project with a press conference announcing a new political party called ‘Unified Estonia.’ Resonances with United Russia went beyond the title: Theatre NO99’s performance as a party emulated the nationalist, populist, ‘catch-all’ public image of the Russian Federation’s ruling party. Although Unified Estonia incorporated obvious satire, its infiltration of real news media led to real polls indicating that it would take 25% of the national vote. These projects drew on ‘diverse popular cultures and digital media,’ and this ‘transmediality’ significantly amplified their scale and reach. This article critically reassesses such transmedial strategies from a postdigital perspective informed by current understandings of populism and post-truth politics.

Keywords:populism, performance, digital technology, transmedial, Haider, Austria, Schlingensief, Please Love Austria, Theatre NO99, Estonia, United Estonia, post-truth politics, theatre
Subjects:L Social studies > L243 Politics of a specific country/region
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
L Social studies > L200 Politics
W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
J Technologies > J900 Others in Technology
R European Languages, Literature and related subjects > R230 German Society and Culture
L Social studies > L241 European Union Politics
R European Languages, Literature and related subjects > R900 Others in European Languages, Literature and related subjects
W Creative Arts and Design > W310 Musicianship/Performance studies
R European Languages, Literature and related subjects > R200 German studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Creative Arts > Lincoln School of Creative Arts (Performing Arts)
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ID Code:39167
Deposited On:06 Apr 2023 11:23

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