On the Real: Documentary Theatre

“Spill” at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, produced with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation through the two groups’ Foundation Science and Technology Project. (Photo by Gerry Goodstein)

It goes by many names and encompasses many approaches, from verbatim to investigative plays, from interviews to memoirs. But whatever you call it, documentary theatre—what scholar Carol Martin calls “theatre of the real”—seems to have acquired a fresh urgency in an age of science denialism and so-called fake news. What role can theatre artists play in this uncertain age? We consider the form’s latest trends as well as its fertile antecedents.

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