Attempts on her life: Loss of agency

Throughout the history of Drama there is a long tradition of seeing characters on stage that would either being about laughter or a cathartic experience. Whether it was laughter or catharsis that would catch the audience, the thing that would apply to dramas would be recognisable characters undergoing unfortunate situations.

In the postmodern days there have been numerous example of a shift away from a character driven theatre text.
One of the classic examples of this is Martin Crimps ‘Attemps on her life’, which describes seventeen scenarios with a figure called Anne. In one scenario Anne is an international terrorist, in another she is a refugee, porn actress, modern artist, a car and so on.
We never really get to meet Anne, but only hear of other people speak about her in the different scenarios.

“She’d like to be a machine. Sometimes she spends days on end pretending to be a television/ or a car.” 

The shift away from the dramatic linear plot to inconsistent scenarios represents a loss of narrative. The loss of narrative is replaced by scenarios absent of common logic and human agency.
As Herbrechter says: “Central is the decentralization of the human and post anthropocentric worldview.”
In this the human is certainly decentralized as it keeps pushing the boundaries for what Anne can be. As we have gotten used to one picture of Anne, we all of a sudden have to reimagine her anew.

The play strips away all agency of the “main” character and lets her existence be determined by commentators. In that way the play inscribes itself in a posthuman discourse as the recognizable representation of man is distorted and not capable of defining herself.

Crimp, Martin: Attempts on her life

Herbrechter, Stefan 2013: “Towards a critical posthumanism”, from Posthumanism: A critical analysis, London: Bloomsbury.

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