City Research Online

Crisis Acting in The Destroyed Room

Dunne-Howrie, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-9831-4195 (2019). Crisis Acting in The Destroyed Room. Performance Research, 24(5), pp. 65-73. doi: 10.1080/13528165.2019.1671720


The internet immerses us in waves of traumatic information, leaving us desperately crawling through media wreckage to make sense of the world. We are left alienated from a reality that never settles into a cohesive narrative. Media wreckage in my argumentation denotes the fragmentation of reality occasioned by the digital acting as the dominant epistemological source of the real in the twenty-first century. The atomisation of reality into the porous realm of the digital has spawned conspiratorial internet sub-cultures dedicated to immersing us all in a state of perpetual crisis. Conspiracy theories like crisis acting are thriving in this milieu. This theory was popularised by the host of InfoWars Alex Jones who argued high school shootings are events staged by the government. This article appropriates the term 'crisis acting' from the alt-right political lexicon to analyse how the experience of living in media wreckage is performed on the intermedial stage of The Destroyed Room (Vanishing Point 2016). The performance is a semi-improvised conversation between three actors who debate the morality of watching videos depicting Islamic State executions, the Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris, the refugee crisis and scenes of natural disasters. Terror, social media and climate breakdown constitute the three pieces of media wreckage that are staged The Destroyed Room. It is argued that constructing narratives of reality with media wreckage turns us all into crisis actors who cannot imagine ways of performing in the world as political agents outside of digital spaces.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Performance Research on 21 November 2019, available online:
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Library & Information Science
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