My project focuses on the representation of the English rural in the context of contemporary British theatre. The rural as both theme and site of performance has been repeatedly marginalised in… read more
My project focuses on the representation of the English rural in the context of contemporary British theatre. The rural as both theme and site of performance has been repeatedly marginalised in theatre scholarship; theatrical rural England largely remains a cultural construct allegorised by urban outsiders. My research addresses this critical imbalance by examining recent changes in the representation and utilisation of the rural - asking how the rural is conceived, performed and received - in three performance contexts: London stages, regional towns and rural communities. This interdisciplinary project will combine textual and performance analysis of plays with insights from cultural geography: the use of theories of space and place will nuance my readings of the intersecting and dynamic relationships between the 'rural' plays, the places in which they are performed and the audiences who inhabit these spaces. While the rural is of course a non-homogenous subset, requiring careful definition and nuance, this study proposes that attending to representations of the rural (or its underrepresentation) is vital: they are responsive to, and illuminating of, vital currents in political discourse. By tracking the changing representations of the English rural in a post-millennial context, this project adopts a timely focus on the potential for theatre to both reinforce and potentially expand the imaginaries of the often disenfranchised communities of rural Britain.
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