The Art of Authenticity

Carole-Anne Upton

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    One of the principal challenges in staging drama which is rooted in fact, or at least in history, is to establish its claim to present authentically its source material. This paper reflects on the ways in which markers of authenticity may be constructed by actors, directors and audiences in the staging of factual material. Taking as its focus a range of recent theatrical events addressing experiences of conflict in Northern Ireland, the paper considers the possible tension between verisimilitude and aestheticisation. It considers issues of distance and perspective, representational accuracy and ‘artistic licence’. Consideration is given to what might constitute the inauthentic in performance, as the paper investigates the conditions that give rise to a sense in the audience of being manipulated or deceived. Examples of work might include the 2009-10 Theatre of Witness project at the Derry Playhouse, the series of plays dealing with Bloody Sunday and two dramatic treatments of experiences of prisoners at HMP The Maze by Armand Gatti and Martin Lynch.The paper will argue that a sense of authenticity is largely the product of a theatrical meta-discourse, one which constructs a series of indicators to reassure the audience of the credibility of the performances and the event.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
    PublisherUniversity of Reading
    Number of pages0
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Sept 2010
    EventActing with Facts: Performing the Real on Stage and Screen, 1990-2010, An International Conference - University of Reading
    Duration: 2 Sept 2010 → …


    ConferenceActing with Facts: Performing the Real on Stage and Screen, 1990-2010, An International Conference
    Period2/09/10 → …


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