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A ‘Political Suspension of the Ethical’: To Be Straight With You (2007) and An Evening with Psychosis (2009)

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This article explores the tension between the ‘political’ and ‘ethical’ dimensions of contemporary verbatim practice, through an application of Slavoj Žižek’s theory of the universal symptom to two productions – DV8’s To Be Straight With You (2007) and Point Blank’s An Evening with Psychosis (2009). The article looks in particular at the treatment of transcripts from interviewees who offer testimonies in support of the institutional discourses that are the target of each production’s ideological critique. By drawing on Žižek’s understanding of ethical codes that are never ‘universal’, but always constituted in relations of power, the article argues that the satirical and Brechtian treatment of certain verbatim testimonies through their theatrical framing and style of presentation constitutes a justifiable ‘political suspension of the ethical’ in each instance.

Keywords: ethical; political; testimonial; universal; verbatim; Žižek

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Birmingham

Publication date: April 25, 2011

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  • Performing Ethos is a refereed, interdisciplinary journal which considers ethical questions relating to contemporary theatre and live performance. Global in scope, it provides a unique forum for rigorous scholarship and serious reflection on the ethical dimensions of a wide range of performance practices from the politically and aesthetically radical to the mainstream.
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