Performing Community: Images of Inclusion and Solidarity in Selected British Plays

Michał Lachman



The article offers an analysis of three plays concerned with the issue of community and its condition in the world dominated by economic, political, refugee, and identity crises. In distinct but strikingly similar ways, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Credible Witness (2001), Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem (2009), and Anders Lustgarten’s Lampedusa (2015) challenge the European consensus about justice, democracy, and community, showing characters who experience the disintegration of the communities they live in and who struggle to form new ones. The three playwrights document ways in which individuals stage their own act of resistance to the disintegration of the community. They also show how they seek to discover what unites them at the time of trial. The theoretical framework for the analysis involves such European and postcolonial thinkers as Ivan Krastev and Dipesh Chakrabarty. Krastev offers a view that the united Europe is facing a similar demise to the one incurred by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Exclusion and crisis of solidarity are among those maladies which Krastev points out as fundamental for the decomposition of European identity. Chakrabarty, in turn, analyses the Eurocentric imagination from the perspective of the history of colonized India. Developing ideas on community (Jean-Luc Nancy, Benedict Anderson, Roberto Esposito), the article suggests that the characters created by Wertenbaker, Butterworth, and Lustgarten are forced to occupy the position of the outsiders. They decompose the “Eurocentric” cultural narrative and need to recast their sense of belonging, by forming new relations and private communities.


refugee crisis, British drama, migration, community, solidarity, nationalism.




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