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Title: The history and working practices of the Propeller Theatre Company (1997-2011)
Author: Poltrack, Emma
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 3327
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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My thesis examines the production practices of the Propeller Theatre Company, an all-male ensemble under the direction of Edward Hall. To date, Propeller has worked exclusively on Shakespeare’s plays, staging eighteen full-length productions of eleven plays. The critical attention Propeller has received remains centered on its all-male casting, but my project goes beyond this aspect of Propeller’s work to analyze how Propeller engages practically with Shakespeare’s scripts and to what ends. As a touring company, Propeller has broad popular and commercial appeal, yet there exists little scholarship on the company. In addressing this gap, I demonstrate how Propeller offers something unique in Shakespearean performance as well as investigate the process by which the company produces Shakespeare’s plays. The first chapter begins the work of examining Propeller specifically through its director, Edward Hall, focusing on the way in which Hall’s personal opinions regarding theatre and Shakespeare led to Propeller’s evolution from a one-off production (Henry V, 1997) into an established company. Chapter two concentrates on how designer Michael Pavelka works with Hall in creating the conceptual framework for a production and how he creates scenic and costume designs for the company. The next chapter explores the effect of the Watermill Theatre’s relative isolation on the company's early working practices, the consequences of the first-refusal policy, casting across and within productions (including cross-gender casting and the personation of women), the collaborative rehearsal process, music, and Propeller’s approach to Shakespearean verse speaking. In the fourth chapter, I examine two productions — The Taming of the Shrew (2006) and The Merchant of Venice (2008) — as case studies of how the company performs Shakespeare. The concluding chapter examines the challenges facing Propeller as it attempts to balance a defined reputation with a desire to grow artistically as a company.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater