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Carnivalisation of catastrophe: a study of comedy in Howard Barker’s Theatre of catastrophe

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dc.contributor.advisor Motsa, Zodwa Khalvati, Mahboube 2021-01-12T09:10:59Z 2021-01-12T09:10:59Z 2019-05
dc.description Bibliography: leaves 221-234 en
dc.description.abstract This research explores the humour and laughter in Howard Barker's Theatre of Catastrophe in the light of Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of the carnivalesque against the backdrop of the postSecond-World-War British (post-WWII) society and cultural tendencies and problems thereof. In this research, which explores the different stages of Barker's work – namely plays written in the seventies, the eighties and early nineties – I argue that comedy and laughter are pivotal to Howard Barker's theory for theatre which ultimately shaped his Theatre of Catastrophe as a tragic theatre. Howard Barker forged the appearance of a unique theatrical practice, the Theatre of Catastrophe, not only through the revival of pain, death and tragedy but also through the juxtaposition of the carnivalesque and death/tragedy. This research therefore, studies transformation in Barker's art of theatre in a period of twenty years and demonstrates how the playwright deviates from tenets he set for his tragic theatre without necessarily betraying its tragic spirit. It is worth highlighting the observation that, the marriage of catastrophe and the carnivalesque remains the most significant achievement of Barker's art of theatre. Chapter Two of the research explores Bakhtin's theory of the carnival through the elaboration of crucial concepts such as the grotesque imagery, laughter and the marketplace. Bakhtin's thoughts on laughter root in Henri Bergson's theory of laughter. Definitely the realm of laughter somewhere in between art and life, both Bergson and Bakhtin also emphasise on the negative aspect of laughter. The engagement of individuals in the marketplace creates the concrete presence which is crucial to the carnivalesque. Taking into account the tenets of the Bakhtinian carnivalesque, this second chapter also concisely studies the challenges posed to the carnival theory by philosophers such as Umberto Eco and Terry Eagleton. The chapter finally investigates the revival of the concept of the carnival in the post-war British drama by studying David Edgar's advocacy of Augusto Boal's thoughts on the theatre and the necessity of the carnival. Chapters Three and Four offer close analyses of the plays written by Barker in the seventies, eighties and early nineties with the primary aim to show the turns and shifts that he takes in the development of his career as an oppositional playwright in search of a remedy to the cultural malaise of his day. The plays selected for these chapters are the ones which the playwright has categorised as his best plays, namely, Claw (1975), Stripwell (1975), The Love of a Good Man (1978), The Power of the Dog (1984), The Castle (1985), The Europeans (1987), (Uncle) Vanya (1992). Chapter Five sums up the findings on the research and concludes that Barker's comic sense goes beyond the comic sense ascribed to many tragic playwrights. The comedy which permeates his theatre of catastrophe shares affinities with the carnival leading to a carnivalisation of catastrophe in Barker's tragic theatre despite the claims by the Barker and his downplaying of the comedy which exists in his oeuvre. en
dc.format.extent 1 online resource (vii, 234 leaves; 1 photograph) en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject.ddc 822.914
dc.subject.lcsh Barker, Howard, 1946- -- Plays en
dc.subject.lcsh Barker, Howard, 1946- -- Criticism and interpretation en
dc.subject.lcsh Barker, Howard, 1946- -- Themes en
dc.subject.lcsh Humor in literature en
dc.subject.lcsh Laughter in literature en
dc.subject.lcsh Postmodernism (Literature) -- Great Britain en
dc.title Carnivalisation of catastrophe: a study of comedy in Howard Barker’s Theatre of catastrophe en
dc.type Thesis en
dc.description.department English Studies en D. Litt. et Phil. (English Studies) en

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