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Title: Stages of the sea : 20th century theatrical entertainment in the Royal Navy
Author: Penny, Sarah
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis is the first full-length study to exclusively examine theatrical entertainment in the Royal Navy and the first study to put forward historical and contextual evidence of a 20thcentury shipboard theatrical repertoire. This thesis documents and analyses shipboard performances created for and by serving personnel on the upper decks, the aircraft hangars, and the messes of naval vessels at sea. This thesis draws upon written evidence from diaries and memoirs in formal archive holdings, interviews with naval personnel, and visual materials including photographs and commission books to provide a detailed historical, contextual analysis of a limited number of case studies in order to illustrate a broader nexus of theatrical practice within the Royal Navy. Chapter One reveals theatrical entertainment to be an important aspect of the navy's unofficial heritage and pinpoints how theatrical productions and the activities associated with them including 'spinning dits' and sketch writing help to forge an exclusive naval identity among shipboard companies. Chapter Two investigates the shipboard entertainment produced by the Special Service Squadron (SSS) during the World Cruise (1923 -1924) and the production of children's parties during the latter half of the 20thcentury. This chapter highlights the strategic value of entertainment at sea in enabling displays of soft power that counter hard power displays in gunboat diplomacy. Chapter Three examines the motivations for and functions of Crossing the Line and SODS opera; two theatrical forms that both endorse and subvert naval hierarchies. The final chapter examines theatrical entertainments produced during the First World War on SS Gourko and by R.F Scott's company during the British National Antarctic Expedition (1901-1904) and considers the value of theatre-making as a survival strategy. By adopting a case study approach, this thesis aims to not only consider the functions different theatrical forms in different sites, times, and situations serve for performers and their audiences but to open up new meanings of the theatrical in each context and to reveal what these practices tell us about naval shipboard communities more broadly.
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