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Title: Seriousness, structure and the dramaturgy of social life : the politics of dramatic structure in contemporary British playwriting 1997-2011
Author: Grochala, Sarah Louise
Awarding Body: Queen Mary, University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2011
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Contemporary British plays are commonly thought of as political if they address an issue that is already seen as political (Kritzer, 2008). This thesis explores the idea that the political stance of a play is articulated at the level of its structure, as well as in its content. Contemporary playwriting practices in British theatre are dominated by ‘serious drama’. Serious drama yokes together politics, dialectical structure and a realist dramaturgy and the resultant form is held up as an ideal against which the political efficacy of a play can be judged. Through an application of the concept of the ideology of form (Jameson, 1981), this thesis re-reads the structures of serious drama in terms of how they reflect the social and economic structures of post- Fordism in their representation of spatio-temporal structures, causation in the dramatic narrative and their imagining of the social subject. Through this reading, this thesis problematises serious drama’s claim to a progressive socialist politics. In contrast, the experimental dramaturgies of a range of contemporary British plays (1997-2011) are read as mediating, negotiating and critiquing the social and economic structures of post-Fordism through their dramatic structure, and so articulating a potentially radical politics. Caryl Churchill’s Heart’s Desire (1997), David Eldridge’s Incomplete and Random Acts of Kindness (2005) and David Greig’s San Diego (2003) are read as negotiating the effects of spatio-temporal compression (Harvey, 1990). Mike Bartlett’s Contractions (2008), debbie tucker green’s Generations (2007) and Rupert Goold and Ben Power’s adaptation of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author are analysed in terms of their causal structures (Althusser, 1970). Finally Anthony Neilson’s Realism (2006), Simon Stephens’s Pornography (2007) and Mark Ravenhill’s Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat (2008) are investigated for the ways in which they re-imagine the social subject through subjective, narrative, unassigned and collective modes of characterisation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English ; Drama ; Plays ; Politics