‘Je suis Katie – free speech in post truth verbatim musical theatre.’

Chandler, Clare (2018) ‘Je suis Katie – free speech in post truth verbatim musical theatre.’. In: Let The Sun Shine In: American Theatre, Protest and Censorship. American Theatre and Drama Society., British Library.

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


Fifty years after Hair’s West End debut debates around censorship and free speech rage, American popular culture (in the form of Hamilton and Childish Gambino) is politically engaged and powerfully enraged and the 45th President of the United States of America tweets with impunity. We are now inhabiting a ‘post-truth’ era on both sides of the Atlantic, our ‘special’ relationship binding us ever closer as we career towards splendid isolationism. There is an interchangeability between American electoral strategists and Brexit promoters, and a manipulation of social media to achieve the unthinkable. Twitter – the President’s social platform of choice – has become a vehicle for propaganda and the interpenetration of populist right wing politics from either side of ‘the pond’ has shifted the context of ‘Anglo-American’, which is now constituted in material practices and mediated in the cultural sphere. This is the ideal backdrop for the first post-truth verbatim musical The Assassination of Katie Hopkins (2018), a show that explores the ramifications of the death of the infamous tabloid topper Hopkins. Hopkins, herself, is a big fan of Donald Trump and the President returns her ardour tweeting about the ‘respected’ journalists ‘powerful writing’ back in 2015 (Trump, 2015). 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. It will also explore how the musical’s themes of legacy and legitimacy, mesh with Trump’s concept of the theatre as a ‘safe and special space’ (Trump, 2016) and surviving ‘a world we don’t recognise anymore and that sometimes scares us half to death’ (Grieve, 2018).

Keywords:Drama, musical theatre, verbatim, post truth, postdramatic
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:52148
Deposited On:20 Oct 2022 14:00

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