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The Variety Theatre uses the smoke of cigars and cigarettes to join the atmosphere of the theatre to that of the stage. And because the audience cooperates in this way with the actors’ fantasy, the action develops simultaneously on the stage, in the boxes, and in the orchestra. 10 As a lower-class form of popular entertainment, variety theatre provided ample opportunities for heckling and improvisation on both sides. In its Futurist iteration, this participation became directly antagonistic, with performers and audience making direct attacks on one another, frequently culminating in riot.

Deller noted that ‘A lot of the members of historical re-enactment societies were terrified of the miners. ’67 This had the effect of dismantling (and indeed seemed to critique) any nostalgia for sentimental class unity. On the level of production, meanwhile, the battle re-enactment societies were essential to accomplishing the dramatic and technical success of the re-performance, but also to shifting The Battle of Orgreave away from a journalistic register. Since battle reenactors usually perform scenes from English history at a sufficiently safe remove from contemporary politics, such as Roman invasions or the Civil War, the inclusion of these societies symbolically elevated the relatively recent events at Orgreave to the status of English history (as Deller makes explicit in the title of his publication, The English Civil War Part II).

His authorial role is a trigger for (rather than the final word on) an event that would otherwise have no existence, since its conceptualisation is too idiosyncratic and controversial ever to be initiated by socially responsible institutions. In short, The Battle of Orgreave’s potency derives from its singularity, rather than from its exemplarity as a replicable model. V. Emancipated Spectators It should be stressed that such an extended discussion of Orgreave is only possible because the work takes into account the apparatus of mediation in relation to a live performance.

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