The early years of the twenty-first century have witnessed a proliferation of non-fiction, reality-based performance genres, including documentary and verbatim theatre, site-specific theatre, autobiographical theatre, and immersive theatre. Insecurity: Perils and Products of Theatres of the Real begins with the premise that although the inclusion of real objects and real words on the stage would ostensibly seem to increase the epistemological security and documentary truth-value of the presentation, in fact the opposite is the case.
Contemporary audiences are caught between a desire for authenticity and immediacy of connection to a person, place, or experience, and the conditions of our postmodern world that render our lives insecure. The same conditions that underpin our yearning for authenticity thwart access to an impossible real. As a result of the instability of social reality, the audience, Jenn Stephenson explains, is unable to trust the mechanisms of theatricality. The by-product of theatres of the real in the age of post-reality is insecurity.