Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Performing Arts)

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Dr Renee Newman

Second Advisor

Dr Frances Barbe

Field of Research Code

1904

Abstract

This dissertation is the result of a practice-led research exploration of how creative writing practice may be expanded and developed with particular application to the writing of what I refer to as socio-humanitarian drama. I have developed this notion to promote discussion and consideration of specific issues of social justice and human rights within playwriting. While this practice-led research enlisted reflective practice in the task of developing and extending my own writing practice, this dissertation does also outline specific, practical modes of creative process, or exercises, that could be applied more broadly for others who may seek to develop their creative writing practice in the field of issue based theatre. The particular socio-humanitarian concern with which this research is engaged is those behaviours, attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate the acceptance, normalisation and enacting of sexual violence, termed in this research as ‘rape culture’. The research identifies modes and methods of the works of a select community of socio-humanitarian theatre-makers, including the work of Caryl Churchill, version 1.0, Patricia Cornelius and Timberlake Wertenbaker, and experiments with the application of these modes and methods to the writing and development of dramatic writing that draws attention to issues relating to ‘rape culture’. This research also considers what, if any, development of my own creative practice these writing experiments facilitated. The final chapter includes an unproduced play-text that attempts to pull these writing experiments together as a cohesive whole. This research discusses certain works from what I refer to as the community of socio-humanitarian dramatic practice, and identifies methods, constructs and concepts that were employed to develop this form of theatre without resulting in a performance text that was overly didactic. The concern being that issue based dramatic writing that is overly prescriptive with meaning may serve to disaffect and disengage audience reception of an issue, as well as result in a performance work that is artistically limited.

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