Apocryphal theatre: practicing philosophies

  • Julia Lee Barclay

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Apocryphal Theatre: Practising Philosophies is a practice-based research project that consists of examples of my theatre practice (as research) and a written thesis. In this thesis, I argue that theatre can be seen to be an act of philosophy, by tessellating Maurice Merleau-Ponty's definition of philosophy as consisting of relearning to look at the world and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's proposition that philosophy is the creation of concepts, and pointing to post-WWII theatre artists whose work both fulfill this definition of philosophy and have informed Apocryphal Theatre's work. Included is an analysis of interviews with three contemporary theatre artists, Richard Foreman, Chris Goode and Ivana Muller, which explore their relationship with philosophical ideas in their work and how that informs their ability to create acts of philosophy. In practice, the research questions that underpin Apocryphal Theatre's research in labs, rehearsals and performance, are philosophical and create the potential for collective acts of philosophy. Apocryphal's practice as research as manifest in its ongoing lab and in the two productions included as part of this thesis, The Jesus Guy and Besides, you lose your soul or The History of Western Civilisation, will be analysed for the historical and philosophical bases of the primary concepts we have created through our research and the tools with which we embody them. The concepts and tools, which are used to address the research questions, are the witness, the grid, cutting up, levels of address and levels of presence. This thesis concludes that theatre and philosophy whilst separate disciplines can overlap in such a way that acts of philosophy can occur in the theatre, and that Apocryphal's theatrical project, which is collaborative, polyvocal and in performance invites the audience to be active witness/participants in the creation of the event, can be viewed as a collective act of philosophy.
Date of Award2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
SupervisorJane Bacon (Supervisor)

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