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The Conversation: In the post-truth era, documentary theatre searches for common ground

By Jenn Stephenson, Professor, Dan School of Drama and Music.
This article is republished from The Conversation.

Based in Québec, Porte Parole led by Annabel Soutar has toured and run several documentary theatre shows. Pictured here, ‘The Watershed,’ a docudrama about the politics of water in Canada.
Based in Québec, Porte Parole led by Annabel Soutar has toured and run several documentary theatre shows. Pictured here, ‘The Watershed,’ a docudrama about the politics of water in Canada. Porte Parole

With the onslaught of “alternative facts” or “fake news,” it can feel as though the ground has become almost liquid.

One strategy to confront the ongoing public lies has been to embrace journalistic principles and aggressively fact check statements. Reality-based theatre is also inspired by this same desire, tapping into the contemporary zeitgeist for authenticity.

In Canada and the U.S., we have been experiencing a flourishing production of reality-based theatre (also called “documentary drama”). Sometimes, it takes the form of an autobiographical performance where the performer and the character are the same people. Other times, it is a verbatim theatre where playwrights cull the script from interview testimony and archival documents. Plays created by the Montréal-based company Porte Parole, led by playwright Annabel Soutar, are a great example of verbatim theatre.


To read the rest of the article, please visit The Conversation.