Theatre of the Real, by Carol Martin (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Caroline Wake


It is now almost a decade since TDR: The Drama Review published its special issue on documentary theatre, edited by Carol Martin (2006). In the intervening years, Martin has contributed to Alison Forsyth and Chris Megson’s edited book Get Real: Documentary Theatre Past and Present (2009) as well as edited her own book Dramaturgy of the Real on the World Stage (2010). Now, at last, we have her monograph—Theatre of the Real, published in 2013. In her contribution to Get Real, Martin made the persuasive argument that Israeli vocal artist Victoria Hanna’s work could be considered documentary for two reasons: first, she sang sacred texts from the bible, i.e. the performance derived from the archive; and second, she sang digital sounds, i.e. the performance commented on the nature of that archive and its relation to contemporary documents. In Theatre of the Real Martin goes even further, expanding her remit and thus the field to include a “wide range of theatre practices and styles that recycle reality, whether that reality is personal, social, political, or historical” (5). 

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