'I don't know why she's crying': Contagion and Criminality in Clean Break's Dream Pill and Little on the inside

McPhee, Molly. 2019. 'I don't know why she's crying': Contagion and Criminality in Clean Break's Dream Pill and Little on the inside. In: Fintan Walsh, ed. Theatres of Contagion: Transmitting Early Modern to Contemporary Performance. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 121-135. ISBN 9781350085985 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

In the UK and US, and other carceral states, the concept of contagion provides a pervasive metaphorical structure for criminality (‘crime epidemics’ etc); and though the idea of contagious crime has been discredited, epidemiological modeling generates all-too-real social policies, ‘predictive’ policing and sentencing practices today. In this chapter, I explore criminality as a socially and dramaturgically contagious property in two productions for Clean Break Theatre Company, Dream Pill and Little on the inside. Performed together, the plays activate pre/conceptions of social contagion via sites of textual and emotional infection. As the trafficked characters of one play become the carceral objects of another, the line ‘I don’t know why she’s crying’ proliferates, complicating criminal(izing) affects between the plays. This chapter positions predictive policing as a necropolitical tool; a contagious dramaturgy works here to deepen audience awareness of discipline and governance through contagion on both discursive, and affective levels in carceral society.

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Book Section

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


5 September 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

21 Jun 2023 15:16

Last Modified:

21 Jun 2023 15:16



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