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The use of biographical material in contemporary British theatre.

Canton, Ursula (2007) The use of biographical material in contemporary British theatre. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The thesis addresses the contrast between the popUlarity of plays with historical characters, i.e. characters that recognisably resemble historical figures, on the British stage and the lack of academic literature that deals with this issue. On the basis of such a practical observation, a working definition is established, in which the existence of such a characters, or the reflection about the process of life-writing are included, and the consequences of the use of biographical material are outlined. A crucial effect is the establishment of a very different relationship between the world of the play and the world outside the theatre in which it is produced and received. This question is discussed in the light of different theories that deal with the idea of reference and a functional approach that concentrates on the way in which different modes of reference, such as fact or fiction, are used is suggested. On this basis scripts and productions of biographical plays are analysed with regard to the way in which they present the relationship between themselves and the past lives they portray. In addition, comments by playwrights and practitioners are presented. The second section focuses on the reception of biographical theatre, establishing a theoretical model in which its particular features are described. It is then applied to the reactions of a small group of spectators who were interviewed about various biographical plays and to published reactions to life writing in the theatre. Finally the conclusions suggest that the questions that are raised in the particular context of biographical theatre go beyond this immediate field, as the relationship between performances and the world is of importance for all theatre. The theoretical and methodological framework that is established in this thesis could therefore contribute to other areas of theatrical research as well.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.440913
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2016 09:34
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2016 09:34
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10292

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