Theatre is often said to offer unique insights into the nature of reality, but this obscures the reality of theatre itself. In Real Theatre, Paul Rae takes a joined-up approach to the realities of theatre to explain why performances take the forms they do, and what effects they have. Drawing on examples ranging from Phantom of the Opera and Danny Boyle's Frankenstein, to the performances of the Wooster Group and arthouse director Tsai Ming-liang, he shows how apparently discrete theatrical events emerge from dynamic and often unpredictable social, technical and institutional assemblages. These events then enter a process of cultural circulation that, as Rae explains, takes many forms: fleeting conversations, the mercurial careers of theatrical characters and the composite personae of actors, and high-profile products like the Hollywood movie Birdman. The result is a real theatre that speaks of, and to, the idiosyncratic and cumulative experience of every theatre participant.