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Collabowrighting the hyper(play)text: a postdramatic digital poetics

Rossi, J. (2016) Collabowrighting the hyper(play)text: a postdramatic digital poetics. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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The aim of this research is to exhibit how literary playtexts can evoke multisensory trends prevalent in 21st century theatre. In order to do so, it explores a range of practical forms and theoretical contexts for creating participatory, site-specific and immersive theatre. With reference to literary theory, specifically to semiotics, reader-response theory, postmodernism and deconstruction, it attempts to revise dramatic theory established by Aristotle’s Poetics. Considering Gertrude Stein’s essay, Plays (1935), and relevant trends in theatre and performance, shaped by space, technology and the everchanging role of the audience member, a postdramatic poetics emerges from which to analyze the plays of Mac Wellman and Suzan-Lori Parks. Distinguishing the two textual lives of a play as the performance playtext and the literary playtext, it examines the conventions of the printed literary playtext, with reference to models of practice that radicalize the play form, including works by Mabou Mines, The Living Theatre and Fiona Templeton. The arguments of this practice-led Ph.D. developed out of direct engagement with the practice project, which explores the multisensory potential of written language when combined with hypermedia. The written thesis traces the development process of a new play, Rumi High, which is presented digitally as a ‘hyper(play)text,’ accessible through the Internet at Here, ‘playwrighting’ practice is expanded spatially, collaboratively and textually. Plays are built, designed and crafted with many layers of meaning that explore both linguistic and graphic modes of poetic expression. The hyper(play)text of Rumi High establishes playwrighting practice as curatorial, where performance and literary playtexts are in a reciprocal relationship. This thesis argues that digital writing and reading spaces enable new approaches to expressing the many languages of performance, while expanding the collaborative network that produces the work. It questions how participatory forms of immersive and site-specific theatre can be presented as interactive literary playtexts, which enable the reader to have a multisensory experience. Through a reflection on process and an evaluation of the practice project, this thesis problematizes notions of authorship and text.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Taylor, L. and Murjas, T.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Arts and Communication Design
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:64083
Date on Title Page:2015


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