Pastorical dramas
: the case for pastiche as a creative agent in the writing, production and reception of a historical play

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    In recycling the obsolete term Pastorical, this practice research submission comprises an original five-act play, Besieged, and an exegesis exploring the impact of pastiche historical dialogue on an audience. Besieged is a play about events in Portsmouth in 1642 at the beginning of the English Civil War. Responding to the provocation from some authors and critics that pastiche is a pejorative term to describe an empty and inert practice, the production of the play explores whether pastiche historical dialogue can elicit politically reflective and affective responses. The process of drafting, workshopping and rehearsing the play was designed to generate feedback to enable redrafting in consideration of the impact of the pastiche.
    Chapter One begins by using Robin Nelson’s theories of practice research to develop a model for the project. The status of pastiche is then explored, including Richard Dyer’s assertions that it is compatible with affect, and a development of Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt is posited. Reception theory is also considered in relation to cognitive studies and playwrights’ assumptions. Chapter Two eavesdrops on the language of 16th and 17th century drama and the development of genre in relation to the use of pastiche. Chapter Three chronicles the method used to create Besieged, involving research of the blank verse and prose of English drama in that period, the historical research of the play, and the resources available to enable the pasticheur to assimilate the style. Chapter Four analyses the feedback cycle with examples of the development of the dialogue, and Chapter Five analyses the full range of audience feedback. Chapter Six explores the rhythm and metre of English Renaissance Drama to establish further techniques to improve the writing. The Conclusion makes the case that pastiche historical dialogue can simultaneously engage empathy and create a critical distance and provides a taxonomy for Pastorical Drama.
    Date of AwardMay 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorBen Macpherson (Supervisor), Deborah Sugg Ryan (Supervisor) & Alison Habens (Supervisor)

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