Agents and Actors Alike: On the Hidden Theatre of Espionage

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This PhD dissertation analyzes espionage as a form of theatre and performance. Using archival documents, comparative analysis of theatre and espionage case-studies, and the application of critical theory, espionage is revealed to be a theatrical endeavor. It is a paramount example of a phenomenon which exists at the intersection of where art and life are blurred. One that gives urgency to an understanding of how theatre may be viewed outside of its traditional framing. This study of espionage is an undertaking that delves into a history of clandestine performances ranging from Mata Hari, James O’Keefe, Virginia Hall, Kim Philby, Maria Butina, and even theatre practitioner Augusto Boal. The project explores how espionage: is defined by a dialectic of success and failure, has mirrored actor training in the preparing of agents, is reliant on the archive for its execution, is governed by a desire to control, and can be viewed as a form of theatre.