Rewriting the Boundaries
This thesis examines contemporary British experimental theatre of the 1990s and its relation to postmodern cultural theory. The practitioners discussed include Forced Entertainment, Third Angel, Stan’s Cafe, Blast Theory and Desperate Optimists, who were all practising during the 1990s in Britain, the period during which the examples used in the thesis were produced. The thesis argues that the group of practitioners selected represents a British postmodern theatrical tradition. The contribution to the field of knowledge made by the thesis is the identification of a British postmodern theatrical tradition through the analysis of stylistic features of relevant performances and the relation of the practitioners and their work to postmodern cultural theory. The thesis employs interview material with the relevant practitioners in order to support this argument and draws principally on cultural theorists Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, and Jean Francois Lyotard to construct a definition of postmodernism and a theoretical framework for the analysis of the practitioners. The thesis argues that what characterises British Postmodern theatre is its reflexive relationship with postmodern cultural theory, evidenced by numerous examples of the cross-contamination of theory and practice and its self-conscious critique of contemporary theatrical conventions. The thesis examines the challenge to and deconstruction of contemporary theatrical conventions presented by the selected practitioners, including the deconstruction of theatricality, the tendency towards interdisciplinarity and hybridity, the rejection of narrative and the use of the real. Moreover, the thesis examines the rejection of acting and character by British postmodern theatre practitioners and its subsequent reappraisal of these terms within a postmodern framework. Following on from this, the thesis discusses the use of time and space in performance and how the notion of liveness is central to the practice of postmodern practitioners.
- MPhil