Applying queer theory about time and place to playwriting

Duffy, Clare Louise (2012) Applying queer theory about time and place to playwriting. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This practice as research contributes a ‘queer-place dramaturgy’ to knowledge about playwriting by creating an intersection of writing queer site specific performance and conventional dramatic theatre practice. It follows the recent shift of focus from queer theorizing of sexuality as a constructed identity, to thinking about what queer use of time and space might be. This shift proposes queerness that is detached, but not completely separated from, sexual identity. This shift also produces a range of kinds of queerness that can be described as odd, imaginative, strange, eccentric, dangerous, threatening wonder-full and abject. I use key works by Sara Ahmed, Jon Binnie, Judith Butler, Michael Foucault and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick to theoretically contextualise these kinds of queer times and places.

I materially investigate the theory that there is such a thing as queer time and place through an exercise of writing on a public bench for a prolonged period of time, called the ‘civic couch’ exercise. I found that this small resistance to the apparently politically neutral temporal use of a place could (re) author ‘me’ as queer beyond sexual identity. It also began to (re) author ‘identity’ itself, so that ‘I’ became more and more identified by where I was. This led to a queer practice of co-writing self and place with each time and place. When that text was dramatized the audience were invited to co-author each local place through the play and outside after the performance. This series investigates, through a spiraling structure of research the relationship between direct resistance to homophobia and heterosexism through representation of queer lives, bodies, times and places and an indirect formal resistance to a (hetero) normative construction of ‘reality’. Asking finally the question: How queer can queer writing for conventional theatre practice be in the UK today?

This project aimed to bring queer theory into practical contact with playwriting to see what it could change in the form of dramatic theatre. I found that I could (re) shape and guide dramaturgical principles but not fundamentally change or break them. I define what ‘dramaturgical principles’ are in relation to the critical work of Sue-Ellen Case, Elin Diamond, Peggy Phelan and José Esteban Muñoz and argue that ancient concepts of ‘dramaturgical principles’ continue to circulate in postmodern, queer and feminist theorizing about form in theatre and performance.

I propose that the lineage of queer writing for theatre maps a negotiation between challenging form and content, which changes significantly from the early twentieth century (and the work of Gertrude Stein and Lillian Hellman) to the emergence of the gay liberation movement in the late 1960s, (and the work of Gay Sweatshop, 1974 -1997), to Performance Art, Live Art and mainstream theatre in the 1990s (and work by Mark Ravenhill, Sarah Kane and Split Britches). I also contextualize this research as practice with contemporary site-specific performance interventions into (hetero) normative uses of public, outdoor places, particularly through the public bench.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: playwriting, queer theory, dramaturgy, naturalism, realism, theatre, practice as research
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Heddon, Prof. Deirdre
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: Dr Clare Duffy
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-3817
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2013 11:07
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2013 08:34

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