Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Postmodern dramaturgy in contemporary British theatre: three companies

Houston, Andrew (1998) Postmodern dramaturgy in contemporary British theatre: three companies. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86023) (KAR id:86023)


Postmodern Dramaturgy in Contemporary British Theatre: Three Companies develops an analysis of performance dramaturgy in the recent work of three British companies: DV8 Physical Theatre, Forced Entertainment Theatre Cooperative, and Brith Gof. While the devising practices of these companies are di verse, my research focuses upon spectatorship and the dramaturgical strategies which stress a performative response from an audience, in the creation of a theatre event. The concept of the 'theatre event' utilizes Jean-Fran90is Lyotard's definition of an 'event' in communication; applied to dramaturgical analysis it amounts to a means of exploring how dramaturgy may challenge the ways in which subjectivity, language, and the body are represented in theatre. The thesis identifies, describes, and analyzes each company's approach to the development of dramaturgical strategies which subvert theatrical representation. Each company is seen to have emerged from different contexts, and to have developed divergent approaches to dramaturgy; however, despite this diversity of practice, all approaches are shown to converge in the way they pose certain unorthodox challenges for their spectators. The theatre event is seen to emerge as much between the perceptual and cognitive faculties of the spectators as in the dramaturgical strategies of the performers. The thesis is composed of six chapters and two appendices. Chapter One outlines paradigm, detailing the various debates which problematize postmodernism as a cultural political and philosophical the relationship between representation and reality in contemporary culture. Chapter Two explores the adaptation of particular aspects of postmodern cultural theory to dramaturgical analysis. Chapter Three applies this dramaturgical analysis to DV8 Physical Theatre's productions of Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men (1988) and Enter Achilles (1995); Chapter Four is an analysis of Forced Entertainment Theatre Cooperative's recent work, focusing on Nights in This City (1995) and Speak Bitterness (1995); and Chapter Five examines Brith Gof's development of a 'theatrical heterotopia' which includes an analysis of several of the company's productions, including Rhydcymerau (1984), Gododdin (1988), Haearn (Iron) (1992), and Prydain (The Impossibility of Britishness) (1996). Chapter Six concludes the study with a focus upon some of the theoretical problems posed by postmodernism to contemporary theatre practice with an examination of an ethics of spectatorship in the theatre event. Finally, the Appendices include interviews with Tim Etchells of Forced Entertainment and Mike Pearson of Brith Gof; both offering an important practical perspective on the theoretical analysis proposed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86023
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:25 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2022 10:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.