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Precarious spectatorship – Q&A with Sam Haddow

Monday, 30 Sep 2019

1. How would you like someone who has read your book to sum it up in one sentence?

A book about violence that is being done to us, as spectators, and how we can try to resist it.

2. What book in your field has inspired you the most?

Jenny Hughes’ Performance in a time of terror.

3. Did your research take you to any unexpected places?

Yes. The world kept getting bleaker as I wrote, and its ‘emergency narratives’ appeared to become ever more horrifying. There are many tragic events included in this book, from warfare to suicide, which had not yet occurred when I set out to write. Neither, for that matter, had the majority of theatre pieces that I analyse. Whilst the theoretical framework was planned from the outset, the majority of the content was unexpected.

4. Which writing process do you use (computer, longhand, dictate, other)?

Computer. I also record podcast episodes on particular topics, or in response to theatrical productions, which sometimes provide stimulus for my writing.

5. Why did you choose to publish with MUP?

I approached MUP because you published Performance in a time of terror, which I consider to be the finest performance studies text that I’ve yet encountered.

6. What are you working on now?

A book about solace. I made a deal with myself that my second book would be less painful to write than my first.

7. If you could go back and give yourself once piece of advice when starting out on project, what would it be?

“This is going to hurt, but you will get through it.” Also, “watch as many back episodes of The Great British Bakeoff as you need to. It’s an excellent tonic.”

8. If you could have been the author of any book, what would it be and why?

I’d quite like to collaborate on a book that uses the graphic novel format to dramatize Artaud’s Theatre and the Plague within the geopolitical chaos of the early twenty-first century. With clowns. I’d need to find people willing to embark on such a daft project, mind.

9. What other genres do you enjoy reading?

I’ve been very struck recently by authors who use the genre of children’s picture books to subversive ends. Shaun Tan, Helen Ward, David Almond, Jessica Love and Tom Percival are all particularly splendid in this respect.

10. Which authors (academic and not) would you invite to a dinner party?

I wouldn’t invite an academic author to a dinner party. Academics spend too much time indoors; they need more fresh air. I would suggest we go for a picnic in the woods or on a hill or something.

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