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Chapter Summary

This essay asks about the theatre’s role in imagining a just future in a time of great confusion, change, and undecidability, arguing that performance offers a subjunctive epistemology for the social imagination. Theatre is a democratic institution whose basic structure of framing images and words has an analogical or conjectural relationship to human experience. Asking how the theatre is positioned to respond to the task of imagining a just future, the essay looks at the way certain performances invoke the past and, through memory, the representation of what might have been. Rather than a nostalgic dwelling on the past, the purpose of these performances is to revision the past in light of an as yet unforeseen future. Michel Vinaver’s Overboard , Thomas Bernhard’s Eve of retirement, and Caryl Churchill’s Light shining in Buckinghamshire are given as examples which do the work of the social imagination in the interstices of indeterminancy.



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