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The Reception of Ancient Tragedy in Postdramatic Theatre

Cole, EK; (2015) The Reception of Ancient Tragedy in Postdramatic Theatre. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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The reception of ancient tragedy is one of the most research-active areas within classical reception studies. The majority of scholarship, however, focuses upon watershed performances and staged translations and adaptations. It infrequently encompasses experimental productions that rework ancient tragedy into new, freestanding plays that retain only an ambiguous connection to their source texts. This thesis focuses upon such experimental reinventions, and analyses receptions of Greek and Roman tragedy that come under the banner of ‘postdramatic theatre’. Hans-Thies Lehmann defines the postdramatic as “a theatre that feels bound to operate beyond drama, at a time ‘after’ the authority of the dramatic paradigm in theatre”. It is a style of performance in which the traditional components of drama, such as character and narrative, are subordinate to the immediate, affective power of the more abstract elements of performance, such as image and sound. The aim of the project is to document this underrepresented form of reception, and to explore the effect of combining tragedy with postdramatic techniques. My first chapter consists of an overview of the postdramatic paradigm and the role of the classics within this. Four chapters follow, in which I investigate a range of receptions produced by Anglophone practitioners including playwrights Sarah Kane and Martin Crimp, devising ensembles The Wooster Group and The Hayloft Project, and immersive theatre companies Zecora Ura and Para Active. I argue that classicism is a factor that is not just unexplored within postdramatic theatre, but is also critically important to the style, and that the combination of postdramatic techniques and ancient tragedy results in affective performances that constitute a new, political form of classical reception. Their study contributes to scholarship on the role of tragedy in the modern world, and illuminates the degree to which postdramatic receptions can shed light back onto classical drama and its reception.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Reception of Ancient Tragedy in Postdramatic Theatre
Event: University College London
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471965
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