At the centre of the theatre’s performer-audience relationship is the act of witnessing. Often unacknowledged, the audience’s role as witness nevertheless creates an environment necessary to performance. In Emilia, not only does the audience bear witness to the events on stage, to the recovery of the life of Emilia Bassano, and to the feminist truths revealed throughout the piece, the split protagonist ensures that there is always an onstage witness as well. Emilia3 remains present throughout: she narrates and provides commentary on events as they unfold before us, but more importantly she interacts with the embodiments of her younger selves, providing support, encouragement, and in some instances a voice of reason. Emilia3’s opening and closing speeches,
in which she speaks in direct address to the audience, first call the audience to witness and then urge us to act on what we have witnessed. But these speeches also bookend the character’s own prolonged act of witnessing her own past. This chapter argues that in dividing the title character between three diverse bodies,
separate and yet inseparable, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm creates an atmosphere of historical witnessing. Building on theories of cultural memory, witness, and testimony, I analyse the interactions between the three embodiments of Emilia, the relationships developed between the three which together create the character, and the ways in which the split evokes the necessity of witness to Emilia’s project of historical recovery.
|Title of host publication||Notelets of Filth|
|Subtitle of host publication||A Companion Reader to Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Emilia|
|Editors||Laura Kressly, Aida Patient, Kimberly A. Williams|
|Number of pages||13|
|Publication status||Published - 30 Dec 2022|