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Palgrave Macmillan

Theatricality, Dark Tourism and Ethical Spectatorship

Absent Others

ISBN 9781137322647
Publication Date April 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Theatricality, Dark Tourism and Ethical Spectatorship: Absent Others builds upon recent literature concerning theatre and ethics and offers a uniquely interdisciplinary approach. With a focus on spectatorship, the book brings together analysis of dark tourism – travel to sites of death and disaster – and theatrical performances. At dark tourism sites, objects and architecture are often personified, imagined to speak on behalf of absent victims. Spectators are drawn into this dialogical scenario in that they are asked to 'hear' the voices of the dead. Theatrical performances that depict grievous histories often gain power through paradoxically demonstrating the limits of their representational ability: spectators are asked to attune themselves to absences and incomprehensibilities. This study asks whether playing the part of the listener can be understood in ethical terms. Sites surveyed span a broad geographical scope – Germany, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and Rwanda – and are brought into contrast with performances including: Jerzy Grotowski's Akropolis, Catherine Filloux's Photographs from S21, Adrienne Kennedy's An Evening with Dead Essex and Erik Ehn's Maria Kizito.

Emma Willis is an academic and artist based in Aotearoa New Zealand where she teaches Drama at the University of Auckland. In addition to publishing performance criticism, she works as a writer, director and dramaturge in theatre, dance and radio.

Notes for the Traveller: An introduction to the Journey Ahead
1. Landscapes of Aftermath
2. Performing Museums and Memorial Bodies: Theatre in the Shadows of the Crematoria
3. Vietnam: 'Not the Bullshit Story in the Lonely Planet'
4. Here was the place: (Re)Performing Khmer Rouge Archive of Violence
5. Lost in our own Land: Reenacting colonial Violence
6. The World Watched: Witnessing Genocide
Phantom Speak
Works Cited


"Emma Willis's worthy project, Theatricality, Dark Tourism and Ethical Spectatorship, places works for the theatre in dialogue with place-based memorials. Willis offers us practice-centered analysis for diverse objects of study. Following Willis as she takes on the challenges of these ethical/aesthetic encounters, readers will appreciate the book's ethorough research, sound argumentation, and elegant prose. An ambitious project effectively realized, this is insightful scholarship about a timely subject." - Laurie Beth Clark, University of Wisconsin, USA
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