Re-Staging Surveillance Tragedy as Critical Resistance
This chapter proposes a new definition of surveillance tragedy that expands Zacharias's articulation by incorporating dramatic theory on the social function of tragedy in order to prompt audiences to harness their autonomy and agency and judiciously resist a decline into a fully militant society. In both Pugilist Specialist and Grounded, the dramatic conflict is the characters' struggle between adherence to command and individual choice. These plays allow us to understand the ethical dilemmas central to a surveillance tragedy. Pugilist Specialist's plot concerns four Marine Corps officers recruited for a black-ops mission to eliminate a prominent male Arab leader dubbed "The Bearded Lady". While Pugilist Specialist stages the ways American civilians comfortably witness militarization abroad, George Brant's Grounded brings the war to American soil. An individual's attempt to see beyond the representation offered, and to critically respond to what they see, might finally heed the warnings of contemporary surveillance tragedy.