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Dislocating Applied Theatre: Crossing the Borders between Practice and Context.

McKay, Samuel Stephen (2019) Dislocating Applied Theatre: Crossing the Borders between Practice and Context. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Amongst ongoing state programmes of austerity, heightened nationalisms, and a bitter public debate around migration, this research project is positioned within the field of applied theatre. This thesis investigates the ways in which recent examples of applied theatre practice in Yorkshire, that developed in response to the refugee crisis in mainland Europe, were situated in, shaped by, counteracted, contributed to, reproduced and/or resisted contexts of austerity and migration. Through this, the thesis and the research it represents examines the relationship between applied theatre practice and its contexts. First, it develops a critical concept of ‘context within’ for applied theatre, reimagining context as flat, dislocal, and woven through practice. It then seeks to trace the shifting threads that weave between practice and context, and unravel the knotty double binds and points of contradiction on those threads. Alongside this, it draws from critical and cultural theory, with a detailed focus on Gayatri Spivak’s theories of representation, ethical practice, and participation. This research adds to the field of applied theatre by offering a routes and strategies for practitioners and researchers to analyse the relationship that any example of applied theatre practice might have to a chosen context, through original theories of intention, representation, effect and affect, which develop through the analysis of the case study material. It also develops critical thought around what it means to work in an imagined local context, invoking some thinkers largely neglected by applied theatre discourse, to analyse the relationship between the self of the applied theatre practitioner, and the other of the marginalised participant. This research engaged with three arts projects, working on themes of forced migration, in Yorkshire over the course of a year, through an ethnographic process. The first analysis of this case study material focuses on a piece of street theatre that used puppets to share a narrative of a sinking boat of migrants seeking rescue and refuge. The second focuses on the participatory workshops of the second project, which led to the creation of a piece of shadow theatre. The final piece marked the 70th anniversary of the partition and independences of India and Pakistan. Through the case study analysis, I search for the border crossings between context and practice on the four threads of connectivity. The thesis makes claims for the relationship of applied theatre practice to people and place, as enmeshed in unique and dislocal constellations that connect to broader, global networks, and facilitate points of refusal and political effectivity, even amongst a renewed focus on affect in the field. It offers new theories of intention, representation, effect and affect, as intersecting threads on the networks between dislocal constellations of people, place and practice, and contexts. Offering a novel concept of ‘context within’, it also ignites strategies for the field, of ‘working in the local’ and searching for a ‘theatre of little contexts’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Applied Theatre, Migration, Austerity, Context
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Performance and Cultural Industries (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.798020
Depositing User: Dr Samuel McKay
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2020 15:24
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2020 10:54
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25829

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