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Title: From epiphany to familiar : the life history of the theatregoer
Author: Lewis, Jonathan Francis Geoffrey
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 9220
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Bucks New University
Date of Award: 2009
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This study sets out to explore the life histories of long-term, regular theatregoers and their motivating factors over time. It follows an interpretive framework and innovates by using reminiscence workshops as the research tool. It argues that reminiscence workshops enable richer, deeper data to be obtained than alternative, interpretive methods such as interviews or focus groups, or quantitative surveys found in previous studies from Baumol & Bowen (1966) to Bunting et al (2008). Data are analysed using a phenomenological approach influenced by Schutz (1967) and the four-part life course model developed by Giele & Elder (1998). The thesis examines key themes emerging from the life histories of thirty-one participants. The findings indicate the importance of a ‘theatrical epiphany’ which is effective in creating a turning point in an individual’s life trajectory. The epiphany occurs if factors such as play, magic, make-believe, religion, and the production’s visual impact and relevance, are present. Most individuals experience their theatrical epiphany after encouragement to attend by a ‘familiar’, a person well-known to them and trusted. The study indicates that many theatregoers are active participants in theatre-making after their epiphany. Their profile suggests a high level of educational achievement, and a career in education. It is suggested that the theatregoer continues to be motivated to attend productions by seeking secondary epiphanies containing similar elements to those found during their original epiphany. In addition, many theatregoers look for intimacy of scale, the ‘magic’ created by the synthesis of make-believe and nature, and in particular, Shakespeare productions. As theatregoers gain in cultural capital, they themselves become ‘familiars’ and initiate the young into theatregoing. This thesis suggests that Bourdieu’s (1984) theory of distinction can be expanded to include the concept of the ‘familiar’, and indicates that in contemporary Britain, cultural capital results more from education and play than class background.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Buckinghamshire New University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available