Acts and apparitions

Discourses on the real in performance practice and theory, 1990–2010

By Elizabeth Tomlin

Acts and apparitions

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9376-4
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: April 2016
  • BIC Category: Theatre Studies, Theatre studies, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism, The arts / Theatre studies, Theatre Direction & Production


Acts and apparitions examines how new performance practices from the 1990s to the present day have been driven by questions of the real and the ensuing political implications of the concept's rapidly disintegrating authority.

This book departs significantly from existing scholarship on contemporary performance in its rejection of the dramatic/postdramatic binary and its interrogation of previous applications of Derridean poststructuralism to theatrical representation and notions of the real.

It offers new perspectives on the political analysis of contemporary theatre and performance across a wide range of models from Forced Entertainment and the Wooster Group, to Roland Schimmelpfennig and Howard Barker; from verbatim theatre to audio tours and the interactive performances of Ontroerend Goed.


'Liz Tomlin's book offers a major contribution to the field of theatre and performance studies, arguing that contemporary performance has inherited a legacy from the avant-garde in positioning its practices as radical in opposition to the dramatic real.', Kara Reilly, University of Exeter|This insightful and important text is a real gift to anyone studying contemporary performance., James Frieze, New Theatre Quarterly, Book Reviews, February 2014


Part I: The Discursive Act
1 Discourses of resistance: representation and the real in the twentieth century avant-gardes
2 Deconstructing the postdramatic: questions of mimesis, authorship, and representation
Part II: Apparitions of the Real
3 Quoting quotations: citational theory and contemporary characterisation
4 Representing the real: verbatim practice in a sceptical age
5 Re-membering the real: experiential challenges to the medium of theatrical representation
6 From spect-actor to corporate player: re-configurations of twenty first century audiences



Liz Tomlin is Lecturer in the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham

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