Theatre of the Real and Public Space as a Platform for Social Engagement Olga Maroudi 7495455
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This thesis examines performances that use documents in public spaces as the main dramaturgical components in order to engage the audience in collective, social experiences. Taking as my main case study the performative protest Inventory that occurred in Eleusis, Greece in 2018, my research question is formulated as such: How does Inventory as theatre of the real employ archival materials and public space in order to activate social engagement? In this thesis, I argue that an artistic re-interpretation and re-presentation of a fact can present a version of the truth, while at the same time it places the spectators in positions where they gain social awareness and they develop social engagement. To support this view, I conducted research thinking of theatre as one of the most vital aspects of life that intervenes in the personal and political and gives voice to the voiceless. Initially, drawing from the field of theatre and performance studies, I use materials from Peggy Phelan, Diana Taylor, Rebecca Schneider, Myriam Van Imschoot and Jeroen Peeters. These authors approached the archival logic differently and created the framework for the relationship between the performance and the archive. My first chapter is dependent on Carol Martin, Jules Odendahl-James, Janelle Reinelt, Claire Bishop and Amelia Parenteau who discuss the characteristics of theatre of the real and documentary theatre, explaining the tendency of theatre-makers to compose factual materials with aesthetic imaginaries (Chapter 1). Next, I continue with texts from Sigrid Merx, Liesbeth Groot Nibbelink, and Christopher Balme who place the public space in the center of attention. These authors investigate how public space performances can transform the audiences and passers-by into dynamic compositional forces of artworks, how they provide them with visibility and how the space functions as a platform for the development of democracy (Chapter 2). Lastly, my collaboration with the choreographer Tzeni Argyriou and visual artist Vassilis Gerodimos in Inventory and the dramaturgical triad addressed by Merx and Groot Nibbelink; composition, spectator and context constitute the dramaturgical analysis of the performance, where the theories from the first two chapters are applied (Chapter 3). In this thesis, I create a research method that unfolds the main aspects of Inventory. Starting by introducing theatre of the real and documentary theatre, I create a map of how theatre uses stories that have been forgotten, bringing them to the fore and activating them in the present. Starting the research from the function of archives in contemporary performances, I proceed to public space. Public space in this thesis is primarily associated with reality, sociability and politicization. In this research, I think of both archives and public spaces as pivotal and radical elements of theatre. Therefore, I suggest that when these two are combined, the result is a theatre of the streets, of reality, of the past that comes and touches the present and re-frames it with one single vision: social change.