Dramatizing war: George Packer and the democratic potential of Verbatim Theater

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Times of war are often times when democratic debates are under siege. The apparent necessity to ward off an enemy and secure the nation's survival can trigger a state of exception: a partial suspension of crucial democratic rights and practices for the sake of national security. The purpose of this essay is to examine the potential and limits of theater to offer an alternative forum for public debate in contexts where freedom of speech is limited. To do so, the authors systematically analyze the content and context of one play: George Packer's 2008 award-winning play, Betrayed. Through their analysis, they make two key arguments about the democratic potential of theater. First, that theater has the potential to sidestep political censorship during a time of war. And second, that theater can give voice to a multitude of real characters and under-represented perspectives.


School of Arts

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Journal Article

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ERA Access