Constituting theatricality : the social negotiation of dramatic performance
This thesis promotes a consideration of theatre as an essentially social skill rather than a dramatic one. It argues that theatre is dependent for its very existence on the social context and the available representational grammars which are firmly grounded in that context. It examines the theatrical experience through field work and a number of interviews with those involved in that experience. It considers the author and the basis and extent of his authority; the director and his perceived part in the production process; the history of criticism and the critics' current role; the actor and his relationship with the audience for whom he plays, and the ways in which the particular style of participation in performance is negotiated both at an acceptedly "theatrical" occasion and a situation where the definition of performance is pushed to its limits. It proposes that the study of theatricality, much hindered by the persistent and now cliched metaphor of life as theatre, is the study of sociality itself. The institution of theatricality is a set of patterned norms for representing social experience and this makes its study peculiarly pertinent to a sociological approach. It suggests that dramatic performance is the use of general interpretive modes for a particular reason, that being precisely to highlight that society consists of just such ways of being together.