Insecurity: Perils and Products of Theatres of the Real

By Jenn Stephenson

© 2019

The early years of the twenty-first century have witnessed a proliferation of non-fiction, reality-based performance genres, including documentary and verbatim theatre, site-specific theatre, autobiographical theatre, and immersive theatre. Insecurity: Perils and Products of Theatres of the Real begins with the premise that although the inclusion of real objects and real words on the stage would ostensibly seem to increase the epistemological security and documentary truth-value of the presentation, in fact the opposite is the case.

Contemporary audiences are caught between a desire for authenticity and immediacy of connection to a person, place, or experience, and the conditions of our postmodern world that render our lives insecure. The same conditions that underpin our yearning for authenticity thwart access to an impossible real. As a result of the instability of social reality, the audience, Jenn Stephenson explains, is unable to trust the mechanisms of theatricality. The by-product of theatres of the real in the age of post-reality is insecurity.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 296 pages
  • Illustrations: 10
  • Dimensions: 6.5in x 1.1in x 9.4in
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SKU# SP004728

  • PUBLISHED APR 2019

    From: $56.25

    Regular Price: $75.00

    ISBN 9781487501853
  • PUBLISHED APR 2019

    From: $56.25

    Regular Price: $75.00

Quick Overview

Insecurity: Perils and Products of Theatres of the Real begins with the premise that although the inclusion of real objects and real words on the stage would ostensibly seem to increase the epistemological security and documentary truth-value of the presentation, in fact the opposite is the case.

Insecurity: Perils and Products of Theatres of the Real

By Jenn Stephenson

© 2019

The early years of the twenty-first century have witnessed a proliferation of non-fiction, reality-based performance genres, including documentary and verbatim theatre, site-specific theatre, autobiographical theatre, and immersive theatre. Insecurity: Perils and Products of Theatres of the Real begins with the premise that although the inclusion of real objects and real words on the stage would ostensibly seem to increase the epistemological security and documentary truth-value of the presentation, in fact the opposite is the case.

Contemporary audiences are caught between a desire for authenticity and immediacy of connection to a person, place, or experience, and the conditions of our postmodern world that render our lives insecure. The same conditions that underpin our yearning for authenticity thwart access to an impossible real. As a result of the instability of social reality, the audience, Jenn Stephenson explains, is unable to trust the mechanisms of theatricality. The by-product of theatres of the real in the age of post-reality is insecurity.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 296 pages
  • Illustrations: 10
  • Dimensions: 6.5in x 1.1in x 9.4in
  • Reviews

    "This book offers a compelling and timely investigation of the ‘real’, ably and amply illustrated by a diversity of case studies. A must-read addition to scholarship on Canadian theatre and performance."


    Susan Bennett, Department of English, University of Calgary

    "Insecurity is well-conceived, articulately-written, and so thoroughly and completely realized in execution. It is a pleasure to read."


    Moira Day, Department Head of Drama, University of Saskatchewan

    "Lively and engaging, Jenn Stephenson has produced a compelling and timely interrogation of the ‘real’, ably and amply illustrated by a strong selection of case studies. This work is illuminating, the breadth and diversity of the performances under investigation alone make this book an important addition to scholarship on Canadian theatre and performance. Insecurity is an original contribution to the contested terrain of putting the ‘real’ on stage and in front of an audience."


    Susan Bennett, Department of English, University of Calgary
  • Author Information

    Jenn Stephenson is Professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University. Her book Performing Autobiography: Contemporary Canadian Drama is also published by University of Toronto Press.
  • Table of contents

    1. Introduction

    2. Real People Part 1: Winning and/or losing the game of life in autobiographical performance—Winners and Losers

    3. Real People Part 2: Insecurity and ethical failure in the encounter with stranger—100% Vancouver, RARE, and Polyglotte

    4. Real Words: Reproducing life in remediated verbatim theatre—Seeds and 300 TAPES

    5. Real Space: The insecure geographies of site-specific audio walks—Garden/ /Suburbia and Landline

    6. Real Bodies Part 1: The traumatic real in immersive performances of political crisis and insecurity—Counting Sheep and Foreign Radical

    7. Real Bodies Part 2: Narcissistic spectatorship in theatrical "haunted houses" of solo immersive performance—Everyman

    8. Coda: Theatres of the real in the age of post-reality

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