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“The majority has spoken”: Performing referenda at the National Theatre

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Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Theatre and Performance
Early online date12 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2019

Abstract

The Majority was performed at the National Theatre of Great Britain in August 2017. Ostensibly a one-man show, written and performed by Rob Drummond and directed by David Overend, the play explores democracy, dissent and abstention through the story of the author’s challenging encounter with a far-left activist in rural Scotland. Utilising audience voting technology to intersperse and inform the narrative with a series of ‘mini referenda’, the play cautions against shouting at each other across the void, instead advocating a more measured, considered and open approach to engaging with those with whom we disagree. Based on an analysis of in-performance audience participation data, this article identifies unexpected correlations and reveals hidden trends and tendencies. It argues that voting theatre operates as a temporary space from which to test, interrogate and rehearse the wider processes of electoral politics. However, the article also considers the productive tensions at play between the reductive binary of the votes and their affective and emotional context. This complicates a straightforward comparison of the ‘social performances’ of voting in theatre to voting in elections and referenda.

    Research areas

  • Rob Drummond, electoral theatre, heterotopia, referenda, voting

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