Performing Democracy

International Perspectives on Urban Community-Based Performance
Susan C. Haedicke and Tobin Nellhaus, Editors
International perspectives on a form of activist, participatory theater with marginalized groups in cities around the world


Performing Democracy explores aspects of a developing form of performance that works to change social conditions for marginalized groups or to preserve the traditions and cohesion of the community. The book combines critical analysis with field reports on specific projects and productions to explore the issues that confront community-based performance. The range of topics is impressive, and includes performances in North America, Australia, the Middle East, Bosnia, Taiwan, Korea, England, and the Netherlands. Many articles include production photos.

The book's first section focuses on how performance can contribute to the definition, creation, and preservation of community. Next, contributors address issues of authority within the production of community-based performance. A final section considers community-based performance's efforts to encourage individuals to feel empowered in everyday life and in their relation to government.

The range of performance genres covered includes community history plays, agitprop, forum theater workshops, puppetry, avant-garde plays, dance, and oral epics. The projects involve many different kinds of communities, including the inner city, youth, seniors, ethnic groups, activists, gays and lesbians, immigrants, and prison inmates.

Susan Chandler Haedicke is Professor of English, George Washington University.

Tobin Nellhaus is an independent scholar.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . a valuable addition to the University of Michigan Press's burgeoning collection of anthologies and monographs on politically engaged theatre in their Theater: Theory/Text/Performance series."
    Dance and Physical Theater
  • "While Performing Democracy offers the pleasure of many perspectives, it delivers something more: a stimulating counterpoint of voices (those of participant, participant/observer, interpreter, artist, and collaborator, for example) distinguished from one another by their varying degrees of distance from the works described. . . . Performing Democracy is a timely and valuable contribution to a field of study ripe for critical interpretation and exposure to a wider audience."
    Modern Drama
  • ". . . commendable for its variety of international and national contributions. . . . Performing Democracy accomplishes a difficult and complex task that ultimately broadens the knowledge of community-based performance, creates a critical framework for it, and, hopefully, will inspire its future endeavors."
    —Ann Elizabeth Armstrong, Miami University, Ohio, Theatre Journal, December 2002

Look Inside

Copyright © 2001, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 360pp.
  • 12 photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2001
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-09760-9

Add to Cart
  • $99.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2001
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06760-2

Add to Cart
  • $39.95 U.S.