Year

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of the Arts, English and Media

Abstract

Entanglements with time: staging stasis, repetition and duration in the theatre examines the historic and contemporary function of time as a compositional tool in the theatre medium in order to further the conceptualisation of developments in performance practice that counter and reflect upon the underlying temporal dynamics of mediatisation. The project is informed by my extensive history of practice as a theatre maker and proposes the term time-based dramaturgy in its analysis of work by Forced Entertainment, Back to Back Theatre, practitioner case studies, and the development of a twenty-four hour performance, Yowza Yowza Yowza. It asks: What is the aesthetic and political significance of compositional temporal strategies based on duration, repetition and stasis to the theatre medium in an era defined by accelerated perceptions of time?

The thesis argues that time-based aesthetics and specifically duration, repetition and stasis directly counter two dominant perceptions of time: firstly the developmental time of drama and its adoption within mediatised technology, specifically television and film, and secondly the acceleration of time as defined by mediatisation that renders information immediate and the pace at which life is now lived as one of increasing exhaustion and economic and social exclusion. As a result the thesis deploys foundational drama and theatre theory; Lehmann (2006), Halliwell (1987, 1998), Weber (2004), Szondi (1983) and Benjamin (1939), seminal nineteenth- and twentieth-century dramatists including Zola, Strindberg, Maeterlinck and Stein and recent theoretical developments; Lehmann (2006, 1997a), Fuchs (1996, 2007) Kattenbelt (2007), Boenisch (2009) and Ridout (2009) in order to rethink how forms of theatre engage with historic modes of performance and the notion of collective ‘liveness’ that has defined the medium. Entanglements with time seeks to advance recent theoretical conceptions of a shift in time as a representational tool to a central aesthetic concern of the theatre medium (Lehmann 2006, 1997b) and provide insight into the temporal strategies that underpin the practitioner’s work and that of other contemporary practitioners in the field. It does this firstly, by interrogating examples of contemporary performance that exemplify time-based compositions informed by the dramatic framework and secondly, by examining the artistic processes deployed in the creation of three works, including a performance that directly engages with the theoretical proposition of time-based dramaturgy as well as offering invaluable insights on future possibilities of time-based applications. In doing so, the thesis sets out to address a gap in scholarship on contemporary Australian performance and offers the perspective of artist-observer in its analysis of the compositional strategies intrinsic to the development of forms of theatre.

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