Joseph Prestwich (KCL) - 2018-19 Students
Staging Germanness in Contemporary British Theatre
This project looks at how the United Kingdom, through performance and its theatrical institutions, constructs an image of German theatrical culture in the contemporary context. I argue that Anglo-German theatrical exchange is fraught with artistic, aesthetic, and critical tensions, and seek to ask where in the UK German theatrical culture can feel at home, as well as what types of spaces have been, or are being formed to establish intercultural and transnational links between Britain and Germany. This work connects institutional frameworks, theatre, and performance to questions of national identity and interculturalism in order to ask how Germanness is constructed and conceived of outside of Germany. The thesis introduces three case studies performed in the UK in the post-Brexit context to explore these questions, focusing on travelling texts, travelling productions, and travelling practitioners.
In each case study, I focus on the institutional dramaturgy of each production, considering how institutions framed these productions through marketing, the theatre’s programming, and other institutional contexts. Together with this, I use performance analysis to explore how Germanness, or aspects of German-language culture, history, and politics, are represented on stage. As a means of expanding on this analysis of institutional dramaturgy, I make use of it in combination with Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of capital as a way of understanding the perceived value, means and effects of Anglo-German theatrical exchange in a UK context. I explore which German texts, productions, or artists have cultural capital in Britain, and how this intrinsic value is accumulated, attributed and marketed.