Applied Shakespeare: a transformative encounter: An analysis of Shakespeare’s use within applied theatre settings, for transformative purposes.

Hulsmeier, Adelle (2019) Applied Shakespeare: a transformative encounter: An analysis of Shakespeare’s use within applied theatre settings, for transformative purposes. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to provide a contribution to new knowledge surrounding debate relative to the challenges that arise when applied theatre companies use Shakespeare’s work for transformative purposes.

Often the justification behind selecting Shakespeare’s plays as a tool to aid transformation is founded in the promotion of a universalising discourse. This discourse can afford an ‘unreflective affirmation’ of a range of ideals promoted through the engagement with Shakespeare’s plays. The implication is that complex and complicated profiles of characters, found in Shakespeare’s plays, can be promoted and explored by potentially vulnerable communities of people as a ‘blue-print’ for learning about, and transforming oneself. The ideals promoted can often be assumptive and taken-for-granted beliefs about the work that often override the consideration of the political and cultural values embedded in Shakespeare’s own theatre.

The method of Critical Discourse Analysis is employed to explore and acknowledge the challenges inherent in applied theatre generally. A case study analysis of three salient community projects is undertaken to demonstrate where work of this nature exists. The thesis undertakes close analysis of the Education Shakespeare Company (prison), the Blue Apple Theatre Company (Disability), and the Combat Veteran Players (therapy).

As a method of subverting the universalisation of Shakespeare’s plays, and overcoming some of the challenges found in combining Shakespeare’s work with applied theatre formats, the thesis suggests the use of new historicism and Brecht’s historicisation and verfremdungseffekt. For demonstrative purposes, the thesis applies an historical reading to Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Macbeth, Richard III, Henry VI Part One & Two, and Hamlet. The method demonstrates how participants are afforded an opportunity to grapple with unresolved questions and concentrate the mind in order to find relevant and appropriate opportunities to create change and transformation.

The thesis recommends that a critical and historical reading of Shakespeare’s plays remains important to applied theatre practice and identifies three main provocations of practice in order to: 1) offer the participants a safe distance when exploring opportunities for transformation, 2) subvert the universalising discourse to avoid assumptive and taken-for-granted beliefs about Shakespeare’s work, 3) challenge the concept of universal truth and demonstrate where differences and not similarities exist.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries
Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Media and Communications
Depositing User: Klaire Purvis-Shepherd
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2019 11:16
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2019 16:08
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/10875

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