This module’s overarching question relates to how English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish theatre institutions, playwrights, theatre-makers and performance artists have engaged with conceptions of the nation, nationalism and national identity during the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries. The module will explore how theatre has contributed to the construction and reappraisal of the nation and national identities through the sites it occupies, the stories it tells and the representations it offers. In particular, this module will explore the fact that ideas of the nation are constantly in flux, subject to the play of history and politics, and that the way theatre engages with the nation changes according to different geographical, political, economic, social and cultural circumstances. The module will begin by introducing key theories on the nation and national identity before looking at plays and performances hailed as seminal ‘state of the nation’ works. This will be followed by a focus on the idea and different manifestations of ‘national theatres’. In the spring term we will consider plays and performances that renegotiate concepts of nation in various ways. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, there is increasing evidence of theatre and performance challenging the very idea of the homogenous nation state by asking important questions such as: who is being excluded, in class, race, gender and regional terms, from the depictions of national identity offered? How can work that explores concepts of national identity also be alert to the importance of difference and plurality? How can we theatricalize the nation in an age of globalization, mass migration and mediatisation? The module will consider these questions in relation to a range of performance forms: plays, devised works, site-specific performance, live art and performance installations.
Class Location and Time (Terms 1 & 2)
FRIDAY 1100-1300 G56