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Title: Shakespeare, the Middle Ages, and contemporary historically-responsive theatre practice
Author: Chadwick, Eleanor
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 5962
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the notion that the emergent language of theatre, and more generally of modern culture, has links to much earlier forms of storytelling and an ancient worldview, and raises questions as to how theatre practitioners might best understand and utilise early modes of entertainment and ideologies in the creation of performance work today. It examines the emergence and history of theatrical performance in Britain, with particular focus on how medieval ideologies and theatrical forms were absorbed into the practices of the first professional theatres in the early modern age, using Shakespeare’s work as a core example. Further, it uncovers and interrogates, through practice, links between performance approaches today and the ritual roots of native theatrical tradition: links which have been largely lost in Britain and much of the Western world, but which still exist in certain other cultures. The thesis includes analysis of how Shakespeare’s medieval inheritance shaped the drama he created, and demonstrates (through practice-based research) how a practical, psychosomatic understanding of residual as well as emergent modes in the plays can not only benefit practitioners seeking to stage Shakespeare’s work for today’s audiences, but also provide inspiration for the creation of new work. This research has practice as its core: drawing directly on my own theatre work, and exploring an alternative kind of ‘knowing’ through the body. It relates current trends in modern theatre practice (the immersive, the psychosomatic, the multisensory, the site-specific and so on) to the ritual, amalgamative, communal and visceral modes of early performance, interrogating particular elements such as mankind’s position in the universe, time and space, language and the body, universality versus specificity, and ritual behaviour in performance. The work concludes that the ritual, embodied, hierophanic and communal mode of medieval performance is not only what practitioners today are searching for in their experimental practice and in the intercultural engagement with other (ritualised) cultures, but also presents a way of understanding and dealing with the traumas and anxieties of society that is efficacious and malleable to any period in human history, and is especially relevant to times of great change and upheaval, such as both the early modern age of Shakespeare and our own time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater