Performing social change on the island of Ireland, 1972-2014
Murphy, Ciara L.
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This dissertation analyses the relationship between moments of significant social change on the island of Ireland and performance practice between 1972-2014. Through investigating the Troubles, Second-Wave Feminism, and the Celtic Tiger primarily, this dissertation argues that key moments of social change on the island of Ireland are captured by a diversification of performance form, which fundamentally re-writes the role of the audience. The investigation charts how moments of social change influence a diversification of performance form such as the proliferation of community, collaborative art practice and collaborative woman-led performance in the 1980s, devised theatre in the 1990s, and immersive performance in the 2010s. The central claims of this dissertation are that (1) diverse performance practices emerged adjacent to the more established modern literary theatre to focus on marginalised experiences, illuminating the realities of everyday life for those who experienced violence, oppression, and trauma, and (2) that the relationship between the audience and the performance has changed significantly in Irish theatre in recent decades. Consequentially, this dissertation demonstrates a tangible link between shifting paradigms in performance practice and social change on the island of Ireland. The methodological approach is principally led through the lens of theatre and performance studies, cultural studies, and feminisms. Major critical frameworks that are essential to the analysis include postmodernism, audience reception theory, and feminism. These methodologies and frameworks are fundamental to this research as they provide clear parameters for the analysis of social change and performance practice on the island of Ireland since 1972. This research contributes to established knowledge within the field by proposing new insights and perspectives on performance practice on the island of Ireland. It focuses on radical theatre and performance practice which lies outside of the dominant literary canon and the single-authored text model. This dissertation presents an all-island study of theatre and performance practices through a forty-year period, illuminating the relationships between theatre and performance practice on both sides of the Irish border. It also presents a multi-paradigm study that analyses the links in performance lineage across political borders to investigate the connections embodied art practices and contemporary Irish theatre practice. Through this study, the research demonstrates how the landscape of theatre and performance practice has altered considerably since 1972. This analysis of the proliferation of radical performance practice fundamentally observes how the role of the audience has developed and diversified to occur as part of a wide spectrum of participation, and one that is significantly distinct from the traditionally established role of the audience in twentieth century Irish theatre.
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