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Writing Figures of Political Resistance for the British Stage

Midgley, Matthew (2015) Writing Figures of Political Resistance for the British Stage. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the process of writing figures of political resistance for the British stage prior to and during the neoliberal era (1980 to the present). The work of established political playwrights is examined in relation to the socio-political context in which it was produced, providing insights into the challenges playwrights have faced in creating characters who effectively resist the status quo. These challenges are contextualised by Britain’s imperial history and the UK’s ongoing participation in newer forms of imperialism, the pressures of neoliberalism on the arts, and widespread political disengagement. These insights inform reflexive analysis of my own playwriting. Chapter One provides an account of the changing strategies and dramaturgy of oppositional playwriting from 1956 to the present, considering the strengths of different approaches to creating figures of political resistance and my response to them. Three models of resistance are considered in Chapter Two: that of the individual, the collective, and documentary resistance. Each model provides a framework through which to analyse figures of resistance in plays and evaluate the strategies of established playwrights in negotiating creative challenges. These models are developed through subsequent chapters focussed upon the subjects tackled in my plays. Chapter Three looks at climate change and plays responding to it in reflecting upon my creative process in The Ends. Chapter Four explores resistance to the Iraq War, my own military experience and the challenge of writing autobiographically. Finally, Chapter Five focusses on conscientious objection and the First World War, considering the history play as a strategy for effective resistance and my adoption of it in The Uncivilised Warfare of Zeppelins.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Theatre, Film & Television (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.721888
Depositing User: Mr Matthew Midgley
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2017 14:16
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:22
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17834

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