Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Clowning on and through Shakepeare: Late 20th and early 21st century clowning's tactical use in Shakespeare performance
by Peterson, David W., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2014, 235; 3582731
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation argues that contemporary clown performance (as developed in the latter half of the 20th century) can be understood in terms of three key performance practices: the flop, interruption, and audience play. I further argue that these three features of flop, interruption, and audience play are distinctively facilitated by Shakespeare in both text and performance which, in turn, demonstrates the potential of both clown and Shakespeare to not only disrupt theatrical conventions, but to imagine new relationships to social and political power structures. To this end, I ally the flop with Jack Halberstam’s sense of queer failure to investigate the relationship between Macbeth and 500 Clown Macbeth. Interruption finds echoes not only in the dramatic theories of Brecht, but also in de Certeau’s notion of strategies and tactics, as expressed both in Shakespeare’s play text for King Lear and Antony Sher’s 1982 performance of the Fool. Audience play is put in conversation with the reconstructed Globe’s theory of original practices in order to examine the relationship between the audience, performer, and history in Mark Rylance’s clownish Shakespeare performances. Finally, in the conclusion, I use Bill Irwin to analyze the cumulative effect of these clown (and clown/Shakespeare) practices in the contemporary theatre. Whereas much of contemporary Shakespeare production emphasizes the psychology of the character and therefore prizes the rendering of a believable character, clown instead emphasizes the work that goes into creating a theatrical performance. The clown, then, draws force not through the power of creating a believable character, but from exposing the work of artistic creation. A close analysis of clown and early modern Shakespeare performance practice reveals a complimentary relationship that proves one alternative to the dominant regimes of “realistic” performance.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jackson-Schebetta, Lisa
Commitee: Favorini, Attilio Buck, McConachie, Bruce, Waldron, Jennifer
School: University of Pittsburgh
Department: Theatre Arts
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 76/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Theater
Keywords: 500 Clown Macbeth, Clown performance, King Lear, Rylance, Mark, Shakespeare, William, Sher, Antony
Publication Number: 3582731
ISBN: 978-1-321-21057-6
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