Utopias in performance: a diachronic discussion of theatrical representations of the Holocaust

Hawes, Emily Eve (2015) Utopias in performance: a diachronic discussion of theatrical representations of the Holocaust. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    This dissertation ,explores the efficacy of utopia as a theatrical process, by looking at representations of the Holocaust in performance. Dolan's Utopia in Performance (2005) foregrounds the thesis that 'utopia' when practised in performance, is a desire to confront and overcome the challenges of a temporal society, in hope that it can subsequently create a social reform. With a current knowledge gap in utopian practices in theatre and its relation to the discourse of the Holocaust, this study explores theatre both during the Holocaust, and theatre which aims to represent it, in order to understand the way in which utopias function in performance and in the performance process. Historiographic research into the Terezin Concentration Camp uncovers how theatre was secretly performed there by the prisoners held captive under Nazi regime. This dissertation unpacks the utopias existing in scripts and documents written and performed by the camp prisoners during the Holocaust, such as Radio Show (Stránský et al. 2014) and the performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem. It recognises that the creation and presence of theatre is effective in escaping from the present and reflecting upon a better past in order to imagine a new and improved society, free of Jewish prejudice and social injustice. In order to create diachronic results of how utopia is practised this study then looks at a contemporary play concerning the Holocaust, The Cannibals (Tabori, 1968) written more than two decades later, and a different approach to the way the Holocaust has been treated and engaged with over time is discovered. In this case, the experience of the Holocaust is approached through means of black satire, not to portray the Jewish as victims, but to mock the absurdity of racial prejudice and the conditions the prisoners were exposed to. However, it also questions the choices the prisoners made whilst in the camp. Considering Dolan's theory that utopias within theatre are a process of desiring social and political change, Holocaust-based plays demonstrate that theatre addressing the past and the moral integrities of the prisoners can be effective for enhancing the future of a geo-political society and furthermore, confront preconceptions of catastrophes such as the Holocaust.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 23 Dec 2016 11:34
    Last Modified: 23 Dec 2016 11:34
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/22730

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