1st Edition

Performing Truth Works of Radical Memory for Times of Social Amnesia

By L.M. Bogad Copyright 2022
    290 Pages 61 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    290 Pages 61 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Performing Truth answers the most pressing questions facing any theatre-makers who are wrestling with how to present historical, political or socioeconomic information in an engaging, entertaining, and galvanizing way. How to make data compelling and documents mobilizing? How to keep an audience interested in what might be dry, dire, or depressing? How to surprise an audience and keep them alert?

    Collecting together the performance texts of international performance artist and activist L.M. Bogad, this book accompanies each script with essays that further explore that work's performance strategies. It also equips readers with specific resources and pedagogical tools to help those wishing to stage these pieces or create their own work to engage with similar topics. Bogad also provides "takeaways" for each piece, illustrating the challenges of its particular subject matter and how to overcome those challenges with innovations unique to performance art.

    This is a key guidebook for artists and theatre-makers facing the challenges of engaging with information in an era of fake news, propaganda bots, and the polarization of ideological spheres, as well as students and teachers taking on that challenge in theatre studies, performance studies and performing arts classrooms.

    Preface Plotting Your Radical Memory Adventure - Paloma Martinez-Cruz; Introduction Infectious Dissent: Cultural Vaccines for the Political Pandemic in Progress.; Chapter 1 COINTELSHOW: A Patriot Act; Chapter 2 ECONOMUSIC: Keeping Score; Chapter 3 POSSIBLE PASTS/FORGOTTEN FUTURES: Santiago 9/11/1973; INTERMISSION: A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS; Chapter 4 THE REVOLT OF THE FOOTNOTES; Chapter 5 A FAIR FIGHT; Chapter 6 GGPS: The Guillermo Gómez-Peña Global Positioning System; Chapter 7 THE AUTHORITARIAN BODY: Performing Politicians; Chapter 8 GLAMORGEDDON: Limonauts Gamble for Oakland-land; Chapter 9 A Collection of Street Theatre Scripts


    L.M. Bogad is Professor of political performance and Chair of the Theatre and Dance Department at UC Davis. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, and author of the books Tactical Performance: The Theory and Practice of Serious Play, Electoral Guerrilla Theatre: Radical Ridicule and Social Movements, the plays Orwell's War, Haymarket, and Tahrir, and creator/host of The Plague podcast. 

    "For over two decades, L.M. Bogad has been transforming how artists deploy performance as activism. In Performing Truth, we come to understand how he has done so. This collection of Bogad’s scripts and critical responses to them provide artists and scholars alike a deeper understanding of the dialogic and dialectic between art and activism, and the potential material effects when employed in tandem."

    —E. Patrick Johnson, Dean of the School of Communication, Northwestern University, author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity


    "You will carry this book everywhere. You will read it often. You will use it repeatedly. You can change our troubled world with this book. These pages are a manifesto and a methodology on how to transform the effects of concentrated global wealth, contested histories, and social dissent into methods of performance: from the carnivalesque of farce and collective game play to the provocations of interactive improvisation and embodiments of sound. This is a book with a purpose that is beautifully inspiring to read and urgently needed."

    —D. Soyini Madison, Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University, author of Acts of Activism: Human Rights as Radical Performance


    "Larry’s the guy in those movies whose friend just ingested poison. He’s slapping us, he’s walking us around, he’s telling us jokes. Why? Because he knows the dangers of falling asleep. He’s really good at it. If you want to feel a smile steal over your face while learning grim and boggling historical truths, if you want a measure of your hope restored, then read what this brazen, impish, deeply serious clown has been up to."

    —Glen Berger, Emmy-award-winning writer for theatre and children's television, author of Song of Spider-Man


    "Bogad has been using his passion to create a blend of performance and protest for years, taking the techniques of theatre and applying them to make them both engaging and activating. His particular blend of satire, analysis, audience participation and outrageous truths is designed not to simply entertain, or to distract, but to show through theatricality the extraordinary hypocrisies of the brutal culture so many decry but tacitly accept. He hilariously atomizes the ugly truths, the viciousness, the oppressive violence of everyday America – but he does it with an endearing smile and ironic twist that makes it subversively effective." 

    —Michael Gene Sullivan, actor, director, playwright, Collective Member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe


    "Bogad revives the long-held tradition that critical inquiry must also involve creative work. The boldest critical theory has always come from practices that pair deep, written interrogation with practices of building, producing and visualizing. New performances and artefacts not only help embody a critique but personalize the experience of critique and help us all imagine the alternative paths, potential futures and meaningful options ahead. In this collection, Bogad organizes an incisive portfolio so as to bring out the themes that cut across his stage performances, street theatre, musical outputs and data analyses. This collection shows off both critical and creative thinking, and reminds us how the comical and playful use of space, shared experiences and information technology is vital to building a better society."

    —Philip N. Howard, Professor, Oxford University, author of Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives