‘Have You Seen This?’ Notions of authenticity in post-truth verbatim musical theatre.

Chandler, Clare (2019) ‘Have You Seen This?’ Notions of authenticity in post-truth verbatim musical theatre. In: Song Stage and Screen XIV, Leeds University.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper will explore how the faux verbatim format in The Assassination of Katie Hopkins is
used to expose sanctimony and the perceived authenticity of verbatim theatre. Chris Bush
and Matt Winkworth’s decision to use a faux verbatim style resonates on multiple levels,
exposing political hypocrisy and pointing to ethical problems with verbatim theatre itself.
Verbatim theatre is grounded in the apparently precise and objective use of real people’s
words to ‘disrupt the dominant ideology’s cultural certainties’ (Garson, 2015). Indeed, David
Hare has gone so far as to declare that verbatim theatre supplies what journalism fails to

provide – critical attention to oppressive social realities. Considered in the context of the post-
truth moment we are currently inhabiting, this theatrical genre purports to speak truths in a

swamp of fake news. However, verbatim theatre’s claim to present truth unmediated by
authorial interference is difficult to sustain, as, there is always an external influence shaping
the narrative and its reception. The authenticity of the verbatim mode is further complicated
when mixed with musical theatre. This paper will explore how Bush and Winkworth’s British
musical responds to the current political and cultural moment, deconstructing ideas of free
speech while fabricating an authentic narrative. It will unpick Sondheim’s oft quoted line that
‘content dictates form’ (Sondheim, 2010) to explore how you create a musical that can inhabit
the age of social media and bring the internet to life on stage.

Keywords:Verbatim Theatre, post truth, postdramatic, musical theatre
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Creative Arts > Lincoln School of Creative Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:52147
Deposited On:27 Oct 2022 15:07

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