Archaeodrama and Archaeotheatre
: Merging Archaeological Practice with Theatre Practice to Excavate, Interpret and Preserve the Archaeological Remains of WW1 Submarine Chaser-Motor Launch [ML]286

  • Suzanne Marie Taylor

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis will explore how I utilised performance as a non-traditional and less-invasive method of archaeological investigation to excavate, interpret and preserve the stratified layers of stories of the shipwrecked World War One submarine chaser “Movy” Motor Launch 286. This thesis will also explore how my transdisciplinary approach to the ship’s archaeology allowed me to merge archaeological practice with theatre practice to create archaeotheatre and present the archaeodrama, Still Life “Movy” in situ within the wreck’s remains as well as ex situ at the University of Portsmouth; Southampton City Art Gallery and the Ventnor Free Fringe on the Isle of Wight. As a result, this thesis will explain how archaeodrama and archaeotheatre present empathetic platforms with which to excavate, interpret and preserve the ship’s material remains as well as emphasise her significance as a last surviving World War One motor launch-class ship. Additionally, this thesis will highlight the ongoing use-life of Motor Launch 286 as a dramatic teller of stories and as an active facilitator of her biodiverse foreshore ecosystem through the concepts of decay and performance. Further highlighted in this thesis is the concept of symmetry between human and non-human beings through the reconsideration of my kinship with the motor launch and through my recognition of the wreck as a sister being creatively inhabiting the world alongside me. This thesis therefore demonstrates that archaeological investigation is not limited to traditional methods of full-scale digs, costly conservation and museum displays.
By merging archaeological practice with theatre practice, the archaeology of Motor Launch 286 is a vibrant and lived experience with an everlasting preservation in the archive of body, heart and memory.

Date of Award25 Apr 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorErika Hughes (Supervisor), George Burrows (Supervisor) & Vincent Adams (Supervisor)

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