I am here now: A play – and – Polyvocality, the unhomely, and the methods of Mike Leigh in playwriting: An exegesis
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
Dr Renee Newman
Dr William Dunstone
Dr Luke Hopper
The aim of the research was to investigate how the devising methods of theatre and film director Mike Leigh might generate material for a new play text and what the implications were in regards to authorship. Central to the research was an exploration of the collaborative devising processes of Leigh as a point of origin and how this might lead to an intended and deliberate case for a plurality of voices in a written play text. It was conducted with a focus on utilising many voices. In this instance the ‘voices’ were young participants from Perth’s African Australian community. The practice-led research project was principally carried out in two parts – the developing of the play I am here now, inspired by material devised by the experiences of eight African Australians, and the writing of the sole authored play. The thesis outcome captures the conflict between myself as a practitioner playwright and the process in which the play was developed and written in context with Mike Leigh’s devising methods, the wants and needs of the participants, and the question of plurality in theatre writing.
Chapter One of the thesis is a critical examination of how Leigh’s methods assisted in generating raw material, the challenges of practice-led research, and the writing of the play itself. Chapters Two and Four respond to understandings (and misunderstandings) apparent during the creation of I am here now, especially in the devising and writing processes. Chapter Three, in between the development and writing analysis, is the play itself. Chapter Five is an overview of the key discoveries of the project. The thesis examines notions of separation and exile in the migratory experience, Homi Bhabha’s concepts of ‘home’ and the unhomely, and ultimately polyvocality, understood by Mikhail Bakhtin and others, as the multiplicity of voice(s) in a text. What became apparent through the research was a battle between the efficacies of the devising methods – that is, the facilitation of improvisatory workshops emerging from a collaboration with a heterogeneous group of African Australian non-theatre makers – and the skills and techniques used to write the final outcome, a sole authored fictional play. Ultimately the findings of the research is that while the play text is sole authored it contains multiple traces of what the participants offered, which came from our formal and informal meetings, to which I understand speaks of a polyvocality.
Access to Video clips 1-13 of this thesis is not available.
McCall, M. (2018). I am here now: A play – and – Polyvocality, the unhomely, and the methods of Mike Leigh in playwriting: An exegesis. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/2151