Title

(Re)presenting Masculinity: A theatre director’s critical observations of, and theatrical experimentations with, (re)presentations of masculinity in selected works of contemporary Australian theatre

Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Maggi Phillips

Second Advisor

Dr Renee Newman-Storen

Third Advisor

Associate Professor Andrew Lewis

Abstract

The “crisis of masculinity” has become a catchphrase synonymous with reports of alcohol-fuelled violence, depression and, even, suicide amongst Australian males, particularly young men aged between 18 and 30. This thesis explores, through the practices of theatre, the notion that there is a link between these kinds of destructive behaviours and the concept of masculinity, particularly as it may be understood in an Australian context. By analysing theatrical (re)presentations of young Australian males, onstage during performance and in the rehearsal room, this thesis seeks to generate a deeper understanding of what “masculinity” actually means in an Australian theatre context. By challenging mainstream constructions of masculinity, this study raises questions of change and subversion in identity impasses. Notions of masculinity are explored via staged (re)presentations of men in recent productions of contemporary Australian theatre: Ruben Guthrie by Brendan Cowell, Blackrock by Nick Enright and two new works created as part of this project, Yesterday’s Hero and FUCK!Dance. There is also a short foray into representations of masculinity and notions of nationhood in two Noël Coward productions, Ways and Means and Fumed Oak. The underlying argument is that masculinity is a performance, both onstage and off and, through manipulating how masculinity is (re)presented onstage, we may also begin to uncover how society more generally perceives masculinity. Such shifts begin to challenge/alter/subvert mainstream notions by encouraging critical reflection through theatre-makers and audiences about how we, as a society, may be encouraging our men to emulate an image of masculinity that could be causing them harm.

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