How Do We Get the Whole Story?: Contra-dictions and Counter-Narratives in debbie tucker green’s Dramatic Poetics

Osborne, Deirdre. 2011. How Do We Get the Whole Story?: Contra-dictions and Counter-Narratives in debbie tucker green’s Dramatic Poetics. In: Merle Tonnies and Christina Flotmann, eds. Narrative in Drama. 18 Trier, Germany: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, ?-?. ISBN 978-3-86821-315-7 [Book Section]

No full text available
Official URL:

Abstract or Description

Adriana Cavarero makes a crucial distinction between the self as narratable and, as narrated. This highlighting has a special resonance for people who write from marginality. Black British dramatists do not experience the degree of authentic agency and opportunities for artistic self-fashioning that their white contemporaries do across a range of contexts, be these creative, academic or polemical. While narratives produce knowledge of the non-epistemological sort, ‘“who” someone is can be “known”’ (Kottman 1997), in the context of British theatre, the mediating processes which contribute to enabling this are complex, often functioning as indexes to other meta- and micro- socio-cultural concerns, creating ‘discourses of interference’ in reception of the drama’s aesthetics.
debbie tucker green is a leading contemporary black British woman playwright, one whose oeuvre plants her as an uncompromising presence in British theatre in a number of ways that reshape public and critical perceptions. Her plays reinforce the capabilities of drama as counterstance and counterbalance to prevailing social norms that devalue and oppress certain groups and to prevailing aesthetic traditions which denote inclusion or exclusion within the British dramatic and literary compass - and its markers of artistic merit.
In addressing two plays, born bad (2003) and random (2008), my discussion charts four routes: (i) the relationship between diasporic and socio-cultural inheritances, and aesthetic and theatrical heritages, (ii) advocacy for a lexicon and inter-referential analytical methodology by which to engage with tucker green’s genre-crossing, dramatic-poetics (iii) evaluation of the criteria for aesthetic judgement employed by important sites of critical reception -- theatre reviewing coteries, the academy -- in encountering her work, and (iv) an investigation into the degree to which such processes, in tandem with archiving and publishing, still detrimentally affect longevity and canonical recognition of a black dramatist’s work.
tucker green’s unique dramatic-poetics, governed by her use of parataxis and other strategies of linguistic and experiential destabilisation, places her at the heart of traditions of women’s experimental writing – both as performed or read. Heretically, I argue that reading her plays paradoxically, increases our awareness of their linguistic repertoire. Their page life offers a range of options (by which to appreciate the text’s complexity), which are reduced by the selection process required for acting the play on stage. Moreover, while written drama’s envisaged endpoint is live performance, its longevity (on-going accessibility, revival opportunities - traditionally never an expectation for black writers), has been maintained primarily through publication, the printed word. Thus, I suggest, it is crucial to strengthen the critical apparatus where this different kind of performability is activated, to diversify rather than diminish receptive and interpretive possibilities for her work.

Item Type:

Book Section


debbie tucker green, narratives of interference, Black British drama, random, born bad, critical longevity

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

03 Oct 2011 14:21

Last Modified:

03 Jul 2017 11:34


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)