20/20: Playwriting/Pedagogy, Birmingham University

Cathy gave a paper at the 20/20 conference, Birmingham University, which celebrated 20 years of the MA/MPhil (B) in Playwriting Studies, March 13/14, 2010.


In noting the ‘spatial turn’, increasingly evident in 20th century theatre and dominant in what Lehmann terms the ‘postdramatic’ theatre (Lehmann 2006), Fuchs and Chaudhuri suggest that, ‘What is more difficult to discern, and therefore more important to theorize, is the landscape in the text…it is the spatial turn, not simply in the literal or naive space of the visible theater, but within and surrounding text itself, that needs to be brought to light’ (Fuchs and Chaudhuri 2002:6). I will suggest that while it is possible to introduce students to diverse writing styles and techniques, a central problem often remains where (English and Drama) students may have difficulty in considering the theatre text in terms of its potential spatial dynamics. A linear, narrative perspective often seems to be the familiar mode of analysis, reception and hence, creative approach. Through site-based and other approaches derived from the visual arts, students may be assisted in making the leap towards mapping text onto a space, without necessarily abandoning all narrative logic.