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Title: Black farce in Jacobean and 1960s theatre
Author: Rutherford, Sarah C.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis examines black farce as a genre of simultaneous and equally (though precariously) balanced farce and horror, characterised by excess, physicality, taboo-breaking, ambivalence and disharmony. Black farce provokes an uncertain audience response, in which a combined sense of shock and laughter leads to feelings of discomfort and disorientation. Building upon this definition of the genre, I argue that the reason for its appearance in the Renaissance and its re-emergence in the 1960s lies in a paradoxical sense of exhilaration and horror felt by playwrights in response to bewilderingly rapid social change and the dismantling of many established structures and codes. In the first section of the thesis, the genre of black farce is defined and studied through its correspondences with and distinctions from closely related genres with which it coincides and overlaps. The precise nature of the relationship between the plays of the two periods is then demonstrated through the analysis of their blackly farcical treatment of four broad, central themes: madness, violence, death and sex. As well as revealing some close specific parallels between particular Jacobean and 1960s plays, this analysis locates the dramatic constructions, of those themes within their respective sociological contexts, thus indicating the various factors than gave rise to black farce's particular combination of exhilaration and despair in societies more than three and a half centuries apart. In the final section, a detailed examination of the professional revivals of Jacobean plays during the 1960s shows how the fruitful contact between new and old highlighted and enriched the relationship between them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available