Sara Brady, Performance, Politics, and the War on Terror: “Whatever It Takes” (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and Jenny Spencer, ed. Political and Protest Theatre after 9/11: Patriotic Dissent (London: Routledge, 2012)

Ian Maxwell


What might ‘political theatre’ mean in the early 21st century? These two publications, the first a collection of 14 essays, the other a monograph, take up the question, each setting out from the watershed of the 11th of September, 2001. The ‘Patriotic Dissent’ collection, edited by Jenny Spencer, goes about the task by surveying a range of ‘Mainstream’ and ‘Alternative’ theatrical/performance responses, drawn from the North Eastern United States and the United Kingdom, to the new politics of the post 9/11 world. Sara Brady’s book takes a different approach, instead interrogating the rubric of performativity in a world that has taken Benjamin’s diagnosis of the aestheticisation of politics to a new level, a world in which, as Brady provocatively suggests,
‘politics is performance and political theatre is all but irrelevant’ (xii).

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