Mise-en-sens and Mise-en-scène: The theatre of testimony and its doubles in emily mann's annutta (an autobiography)

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In this paper, I argue that in addition to being a documentary playwright and a director who adheres to present verbatim testimony and tries every possible way to approximate truth and authenticity, in the sense of offering a verifiable account of the Holocaust, the Vietnam war, a murder trial, racism, or homophobia, Emily Mann is above all more an "auteur," a playwright and a theatre director who is regarded as having some distinctively recognizable vision and personal quality in mise-en-sens and mise-en-scène, than a mere "metteur-en-scène," a director whose job is simply to arrange the scenes and oversee the editing of materials without much personal imprint. In the meantime, I point out that Mann's process of "mise-en-sens" is more than an act of interview transcription because documentary information needs to go through the process of selecting, condensing, formulating, and artful arrangement. It often involves what I call "mise-en-temp," the arrangement of history or story in time. To complete the whole process, the play, which is created out of the process of "mise-en-sens" needs to be aided by the stagecraft of "mise-en-scène" to be manifested on the stage. For our purpose in this paper, I concentrate on discussing Mann's first documentary play Annulla (An Autobiography) (1977; 1985) rather than giving a survey of the four plays collected in Testimonies: Four Plays. By doing so, I hope to give an in-depth analysis of Emily Mann's theatre of testimony and its doubles-mise-en-sens and mise-en-scène-at work in Annulla.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-152
Number of pages28
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Dec


  • Annulla (An Autobiography)
  • Emily Mann
  • Mise-en-sens
  • Mise-enscène
  • The Theatre of Testimony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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