The Problematised Concept of Author-ity in Tim Crouch's My Arm, An Oak Tree and ENGLAND
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In the twenty-first century British contemporary and in particular postdramatic theatre, the increasing centralisation of the audience and the spectators’ active participation emerge as controversial subject matters. Tim Crouch (1964- ) is one of the most prominent playwrights of British contemporary theatre with the techniques he employs in his plays to stimulate the audience’s intellectual engagement. Crouch stands out with his novel approach to the notion of spectatorship; while granting authority to his audience as autonomous components, he also demarcates the line between stage and the auditorium. The writer frequently confines his audience within the auditorium and employs spatial limitations to liberate the audience. Such constraints allow Crouch to create an equal co-authorship dynamic between the author, the performers, and the audience on his stage. By analysing his plays, namely My Arm (2003), An Oak Tree (2005), and ENGLAND (2007), this thesis aims to explore how Crouch creates an equalised and active participatory space that prioritises the action taking place in the audience’s mind. The introduction of the thesis focuses on various theories and practises that illuminate Crouch’s understanding of theatre. The first chapter focuses on the concept of representation in My Arm by analysing the writer’s use of objects collected from the audience as a means of enhancing contemplation in the auditorium. The second chapter, deals with the phenomenon of transformation in An Oak Tree in which Crouch urges the audience to make a mental contribution through “self-hypnosis” by means of a demonstration of hypnosis on stage. The third and final chapter analyses how ENGLAND focuses on the translation between what the author says and what the audience creates in a gallery environment, which brings spatial dynamics to the forefront. Thus, the thesis concludes that by prioritising the audience’s autonomous perception in his plays, Crouch encourages the spectators to transform into co-creators and authors of their own stories.