Classical mythology and the contemporary playwright

Miller, Louise May Whilhemina (2014) Classical mythology and the contemporary playwright. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .

Abstract

This practice-based thesis explores, through the creation of three new full-length plays, the ways in which a contemporary playwright might engage with classic mythology, specifically ancient Greek mythology in the development of new work. The plays form a triptych, each inspired by a single, yet interconnected Greek myth: their mythic inspirations are as follows, Sodium (2010-11) Theseus and the Minotaur, Sulphur (2011-12) Ariadne at Naxos, and Silver (2010) Icarus and Daedalus. Non-dramatically extant ancient Greek myths were selected in order to seek to explore dramatic possibilities beyond Greek tragedy. The diverse ways in which this body of work was approached is framed by the influence of contemporary theatre practice. Alongside this creative enquiry, the thesis explores the impetus which prompted practitioners to turn to classical mythology for inspiration over two millennia since the myths were created. Reflection on the processes which led to the creation of these plays in relation to the author’s own highlights potential conflicts between ancient and contemporary theatre practice, and seeks to explore ways in which the juxtaposition between traditional and contemporary approaches to theatre making can spark creative engagements. The fission between tradition and subversion was a key factor in the creation of the plays now presented, offering possible insights into the ways in which contemporary practitioners can benefit from a playful engagement with traditional practice in order to generate new work.

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