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Staging Space: Dramatic Geography and Audience Experience (EAS3420)

30 credits

‘Theatre is pre-eminently a spatial medium, for it can dispense with language on occasion but never with space.’ (David Wiles)

Questions of space and place are central to the experience of live theatre, in which actors and audience typically occupy the same or adjacent location(s). Moreover, as Gay McAuley argues, the performance space is not an “empty container”, but rather an active producer of social and theatrical meaning. This module invites attention to the significance of diverse playing places, fictional geographies, and developments in spatial dramaturgy for our understanding of modern drama’s composition, staging, and reception. We will engage in textual and performative analysis of nineteenth- and twentieth-century drama, discussing aspects that range from the imaginary geographies evoked within the plays we study to the performance spaces in which they would have been staged and experienced. We will also consider how different playing locations might influence individual audience members’ experiences of theatrically-represented places and events, with reference to related environmental and phenomenological discourse.