Performing Democracy

Mark Robson (Lead / Corresponding author)

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The debate about the relationship between theatre and democracy rests on a presumption that both the artform and the political form share an inter- twined history, based in their co-appearance in Greece. Equally well-known is the antagonism towards both theatre and democracy that emerges at the same moment, most clearly found in Plato. This essay revisits this history in order to set up an examination of two contemporary theatre performances that explicitly raise the relationship of democracy and theatre, the British company Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man and the Belgian company Ontroerend Goed’s Fight Night. Both, in very different ways, approach democracy through a focus on audience experi- ence. How, then, might these productions be read in terms of a democracy-to- come and a theatre-to-come?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-170
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2018


  • theatre
  • democracy
  • philosophy


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