Contemporary dramaturgy in theatre for young people : the conceptual shape of displacement and installation

Plummer, Kris Bronwyn (2009) Contemporary dramaturgy in theatre for young people : the conceptual shape of displacement and installation. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis investigates Theatre for Young People (TYP) as a site of performance innovation. The inquiry is focused on contemporary dramaturgy and its fieldwork aims to identify new dramaturgical principles operating in the creation and presentation of TYP. The research then seeks to assess how these new principles contribute to Postdramatic Theatre theory.

This research inquiry springs from an imperative based in practice: Young people under 25 years have a literacy based on online hypertextual experiences which take the reader outside the frames of a dramatic narrative and beyond principles such as linearity, dramatic unity, teleology and resolution. As a dramaturg and educator I wanted to understand the new ways that young people engage in cultural products, to identify and utilize the new principles of dramaturgy that are now in evidence.

My research examines how two playwright/directors approach their work and the new principles that can be identified in their dramaturgy. The fieldwork is scoped into two case studies: the first on TJ Eckleberg working in Australian Theatre for Young People and the second on Kristo Šagor working in German Children’s and Young People’s Theatre (KJT).

These case studies address both types of production dramaturgy - the dramaturgy emergent through process in devised performance making, and that emergent in a performance based on a written playscript. On Case Study One the researcher, as participant observer, worked as production dramaturg on a large scale, site specific performance, observing the dramaturgy in process of its director and chief devisor. On Case Study Two the researcher, as observer and analyst, undertook a performance analysis of three playscripts and productions by a contemporary German playwright and director.

Utilizing participant observation, reflective practice and grounded analysis the case studies have identified two new principles animating the dramaturgy of these TYP practitioners, namely ‘displacement’ and ‘installation.’ Taking practice into theory, the thesis concludes by demonstrating how displacement and installation contribute to Postdramatic Theatre’s “arsenal of expressive gestures which serve as theatre’s response to changed social communication under the conditions of generalized communication technologies” (Lehmann, H.-T., 2006, p.23).

This research makes an original contribution to knowledge by evidencing that the principles of Postdramatic Theory lie within the practice of contemporary Theatre for Young People. It also contributes valuable research to a specialized, often overlooked terrain, namely Dramaturgy in Theatre for Young People, presented here with a contemporary, international and intercultural perspective.

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ID Code: 32454
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Haseman, Bradley & Gattenhof, Sandra
Keywords: Theatre for Young People, Kinder- und Jugendtheater, Theatre for Young Audiences, dramaturgy, dramaturg , Postdramatic Theatre, Millennial Theatre, Junges Theater, Junge Oper, displacement, installation, Shopfront Theatre For Young People, Schnawwl Theate, National Theater, Mannheim, Staatstheater Oldenburg
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 31 May 2010 23:12
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:56

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