Theatre - Doctoral Theses

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    Will you stay and watch me dying? Hybridising transmedia and bricolage as a means of staging the post-traumatic
    (University College Cork, 2022-08-19) McQueen, Patricia Darling; Cronin, Bernadette; Kelly, Marie; Irish Research Council
    As technology increasingly dominates lived experience in the 21st-century, theatre artists are moving beyond traditional boundaries, harnessing the energy of popular media to tell stories in innovative ways. The aesthetic languages of these works often fragment, distort, or magnify layers of meaning to produce profound, novel expression of theatrical experiences that cannot be separated from their media elements. This dissertation explores an original hybridisation of transmedia technologies and bricolage scripting in order to interrogate how a combination of live performance and transmediated images can deepen the representational capacity of the portrayal of post-traumatic experience in the process of creating theatrical artworks. Exploring how theatre performance can harness the communicative power of technologies in imagistic, symbolic, and metaphorical ways – with the intention of offering distinct strategies for the exploration of the representation of post- traumatic experience – this dissertation further reflects on the process of hybridisation, the relationship between desired aesthetic outcomes, and the various elements connected to the process of bricolage creation. The practical components of this research project explored the reliance of live theatre on physical presence in conjunction with ephemeral technologies which, despite their lack of tangible substance, constitute much of our daily lives. The development of practical dramaturgical strategies, such as bricolage scripting and transmedia storytelling, contributed to the production of a full-length theatrical artwork-in-progress: Will You Stay and Watch Me Dying? The process involved in the creation of this production concentrated on excavating psychological dynamics in a sociological historical context and metaphorically staging the complexity of those dynamics through the physical assemblage of text, images, and live bodies on stage.
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    Enchanting things: cultural object performance and practice encounters with material performatives
    (University College Cork, 2022) Burton, Leslie; O'Gorman, Roisin; Kelly, Marie; Irish Research Council
    Within the neoliberal, capitalist Anthropocene, over-saturation in material culture and passive acceptance of the overwhelming circulation of objects has led, quite literally, to a toxic relationship with (supposedly) disenchanted materiality. In this thesis, I argue that, in addition to being a performance practice that generates sites of potentially reparative enchantment, object performance also offers a neglected entry point for observation and analysis of the multiplicity of hidden material enchantments at work in contemporary culture. In all its forms, material performance, object theatre, puppetry – the performative animation of things – offers blatantly, and, sometimes, subversively, naive alternatives to hegemonic, largely digitized practices of representation. While its ubiquity renders puppetry arts forever familiar, providing points of profound connection between people (and their material-cultural environments), puppetry’s drama in performance relies on its inherent uncanniness, on its strange ability to unsettle us even when we know how it “works.” Despite its apparent simplicity as an art form, object performance presents us with the collapse of some of the primary binary oppositions upon which Western culture rests: subject and object, mind and matter, visible and invisible, truth and trickery, dead and alive. Grounded in new materialist ethics and the interdisciplinary imperatives of performance studies, this practice-led research travels transverse paths of creative arts practice and cultural analysis in the development of a critical approach to object performance that I call puppeting. Puppeting is a way of seeing and thinking that arises from engaging with materiality to make and perform with puppets. Puppeting therefore takes as given that making is itself a kind of thinking, that objects and materials are active collaborators in the thought process, and that the union of imagination and material, as negotiated through movement, produces physical manifestations of thought that influence their surroundings by virtue of their presence. With these givens in place, puppeting allows us to understand the enchantments of particularly situated objects and performances, and furthermore to recognize that such performances are going on all around us all the time. Indeed, between the specialized space of the theatre, where artistic puppets inspire affective experience, and the “normal” space of daily life, where functional objects regulate lived experience (traffic cones come to mind), there is the in-between space of cultural performance (the political rally, religious ritual, community celebration, etc.), where performing objects like effigies, relics, and fetishes do both. Through participant observation, autoethnography, and critical analysis, this study identifies different modes of enchantment, both “good” and “bad,” as revealed by puppeting. By participating in alternative, even utopian, practices of world-making in a marionette workshop in Prague, on a Vermont farm with the Bread and Puppet theatre, in her own studio in Ireland, and along the route of the All Souls Procession in southern Arizona, the puppetry artist encounters enchantments of liberatory interconnection conjured in the course of creating and performing puppetry. As anyone who has ever read a fairytale can tell, however, not all enchantments are delightful; the latter half of the study focuses on the puppetry scholar's analyses as she identifies oppressive, divisive enchantments in cultural performances including the historical European practice of effigy destruction, the hangings-in-effigy of President Barack Obama across the USA after 2008, and the display of fetish-like plastic fetuses by anti-choice activist groups, particularly in Ireland's 2018 Abortion Rights Campaign. In each of these sites, puppeting offers a new lens through which to analyse the performative power of objects in performance, exposing the reflective and constitutive messages hidden in their depths, in the hope that understanding how these kinds of enchantments work will help us to produce more of the “good” enchantments and to avoid falling for the “bad” ones.
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    Performing psychic: the performance of mentalism and psychic arts on stage, screen, and in everyday life
    (University College Cork, 2020-01-02) McQueen, Scotty; Kelly, Marie; King, Robert; Cronin, Bernadette; University College Cork
    Throughout post-industrial societies, consumers regularly buy tickets to watch mind readers and psychic mediums, tune in to the television and radio shows of such performers, dial psychic hotlines, and visit psychics, fortune-tellers, numerologists, astrologists, tarot card readers, and energy healers. Despite the popularity of such practices, this booming performance-based industry aimed at entertainment and self-improvement has yet to be analysed in any depth within the field of Performance Studies where such performances have either been omitted entirely or conflated with conjuring tricks or shamanism. This conflation is understandable given the secrecy, artifice, and misinformation which enshroud the shapeshifting performances of mentalists and psychics. The aim of this practice-led research was to – through both embodied and theoretical knowledge – situate mentalism within theories of performance, performativity, and play, paying close attention to the ways in which these fictional performances purport to be “reality.” My intention was to reach a new understanding of the practice of mentalism while also offering insights for the benefit of practitioners and contributing to practice-led research as a methodological approach. This dissertation was developed reflexively in conjunction with my practical research, during which I spent three years immersed in the social role of psychic and created 13 original performances for the stage and screen. This combination of public and covert performance provided me with a means to look behind the curtain, so to speak, and to assess the performance practices and performative behaviours by which people “do psychic” and in so doing, create the very experiences and beliefs which those actions purport to be.
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    Site and sound: musical composition and site-specific performance – developing a creative practice through practical methodologies
    (University College Cork, 2017-08-31) Lane, Tom Anton Zahlbruckner; O'Gorman, Roisin; Mercier, Mel; Cork Opera House; University College Cork
    This practice-based Ph.D. investigates ways of developing site-specific performances through a variety of methodologies in order to sonically address the relationships between space, mobility and sound, focussing on mobile communication technologies as well as objects and locations such as bridges and rivers. The central creative research questions developed from this experimental practice and process are as follows: how does one create site-specific performances using mobile technologies in urban spaces? How can sound and music be used to create performances in locations associated with movement such as trains, bridges and rivers? How can musical composition integrate spaces, locations and physical objects to create unique site-specific performances? The documented work in this thesis offers a wide range of pieces addressing these questions across different media, scales and locations. The various practical approaches to creating performances documents and reflects the development of a practice based on creating performances in specific locations. Through continuous experimentation with forms and methodologies, the challenges and opportunities of site-specific performances are approached through practical and creative solutions. Alongside the portfolio, a written thesis gives a detailed account of each step of the creative process. This includes personal diary entries describing specific sites and experiences as well as analysis and explanations of every level of creative decision making. In addition to this analysis of a creative practice, through the discussion and analysis of related literatures of site-specific performance, sound studies, and concepts of place-making, this Ph.D. establishes a theoretical framework to further explore issues raised by site-specific performance, foregrounding the aspects of sound and acoustic awareness in these contexts. Through continuous creative experimentation in the context of theoretical and practice-based research, this work extends and develops the legacies of sonic site-specific performance and composition while generating detailed approaches to offer further methods of creating future output.
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    序破急 Jo-Ha-Kyu: enticement - crux - consolidation. From study to learning: Process drama projects in the Japanese English language university classroom
    (University College Cork, 2013) Donnery, Eucharia Nora Mary; Schewe, Manfred; Dundjerovic, Aleksandar
    This dissertation investigates how social issues can be explored through process drama projects in the Japanese university English as a Foreign Language classroom context. The trajectory of this dissertation moves along a traditional Noh three part macro-continuum, called Jo-Ha-Kyu, interpreted as enticement, crux and consolidation. Within these three parts, there are six further divisions. Part I consists of three sections: Section I, the introduction, sets the backdrop for the entire dissertation, that of Japan, and aims to draw the reader into its culturally unique and specific world. This section outlines the rationale for placing the ethnographer at the centre of the research, and presents Japan through the eyes of the writer. Section II outlines relevant Japanese cultural norms, mores and values, the English educational landscape of Japan and an overview of theatre in Japan and its possible influences on the Japanese university student today. Section III provides three literature reviews: second language acquisition, drama in education to process drama, and Content Language Integrated Learning. In Part 2, Sections IV and V respectively consist of the research methodology and the action research at the core of this dissertation. Section IV describes the case of Kwansei Gakuin University, then explains the design of the process drama curricula. Section V details the three-process drama projects based around the three social issues at the centre of this dissertation. There is also a description of an extra project that of the guest lecturer project. The ultimate goals of all four projects were to change motivation through English in a CLIL context, to develop linguistic spontaneity and to deepen emotional engagement with the themes. Part 3 serves to reflect upon the viability of using process drama in the Japanese university curriculum, and to critically self-reflect on the project as a whole.