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"Antic Dispositions?": The Representation of Madness in Modern British Theatre

Dingwall-Jones, Christopher (2014) "Antic Dispositions?": The Representation of Madness in Modern British Theatre. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:48042)

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This thesis examines how mental illness has been represented in British theatre from c. 1960 to the present day. It is particularly concerned with the roles played by space and embodiment in these representations, and what emerges as bodies interact in space. It adopts a mixed methodology, drawing on theoretical models from both continental philosophy and contemporary cognitive and neuroscientific research, in order to address these questions from the broadest possible range of perspectives.

Through these explorations, this thesis suggests a model of madness, not as something to be bracketed as ‘other’ and belonging to a deviant individual, but as emerging between bodies in space – there is no madness outside of social, spatial and embodied contexts. This in turn suggests a new approach to understanding the role theatre can play in addressing the lived experience of mental illness.

While many productions currently attempt, unilaterally, to reduce the ‘stigma’ of mental illness, this thesis suggests that that, in fact, discrimination against people experiencing mental illness is more likely to be reduced through the interaction between an ethically minded production and an ethical spectator. Such a model does not claim to be able to reduce the experience of madness to a totalising concept which can be communicated through theatre, but rather insists that it is only through an embodied, empathic interaction that a true concern for the (‘mad’ or ‘sane’) Other can emerge.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Uncontrolled keywords: Madness Theatre Drama Performance RepresentationEthics Lefebvre Levinas Marat/Sade Peter Weiss Sarah Daniels Sarah Kane Peter Brook Anthony Neilson Jeremy Sams Head Rot Holiday Beside Herself 4:48 Psychosis Blasted Crave Head Hand Head Fantasist Theatre Temoin Laura Jane Dean
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The theatre
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > Drama and Theatre
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2015 15:00 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 14:26 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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