SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge

January 2008

From Narrative to Spectacle: An examination of Contemporary Theatre performance.

Adams, K 2008, From Narrative to Spectacle: An examination of Contemporary Theatre performance., Phd Thesis, University of Hull, Hull, UK.


Drawing on Debord and Baudrillard, this thesis takes its starting point the shift from text to image dominated representations of the world. It argues the parallel shifts in theatre practice and reception away from work which subordinates itself to textual narrative and towards theatre with foreground the non-textual theatrical elements is becoming more defined in Britain. Within there is a concern with the relationship between narrative, the spectacle and disruptive modes of engagement, drawing out in each chapter a different aspect of the implications for creating and engaging with theatre where the spectacle of society is ubiquitous.


The introductory chapter will first outline how narrative can be defined and discuss the significance of experience of reality through spectacular representation looking at how the notion of the spectator and the experience of engagement with theatre have changed, then the following six chapters will address the relationship between the spectacle and virtuosity in performance; the implications for politics of identity and for resistance to the spectacle; the experience of immersion through participation in spectacular performance; and distance through engagement with ironic spectacle, before in the final chapter, addressing theatre which constructs itself as international through multilingualism and new media technology.



Each chapter focuses on one or two practitioners examining one of their performances in detail in relation to one of the areas outlined above. This analysis will be based on my own experience as a spectator, research into the companies, their reception in the media and academic writing, and where possible through interviews with members of the company.


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Publication Details

Thesis Type
Phd Thesis

Publisher / Institution
University of Hull
Hull, UK