'There are times when naturalism just isn't enough': breaking open the kitchen sink in the theatre of Alistair McDowall

Holden, Nicholas (2016) 'There are times when naturalism just isn't enough': breaking open the kitchen sink in the theatre of Alistair McDowall. In: British Theatre in the 21st Century: new texts, new stages, new identities, new worlds, 13-15 October, 2016, Université Paris-Sorbonne.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Alistair McDowall has been described as the most exciting English playwright of the last five years. His Bruntwood Prize winning play Brilliant Adventures (2011) premiered at Manchester’s Royal Exchange in 2011 and his most recent work X (2016) played in the Royal Court’s Theatre Downstairs earlier this year.
This paper draws on three of McDowall’s plays: Brilliant Adventures, Pomona (2014) and X to explore how the writer’s distinctive voice has come to challenge conventional approaches to form on the British theatre stage. In blending science fiction with reality, McDowall’s work ostensibly presents a fantastical world of time machines and Cthulhu masks that seem far removed from our own experiences of life and more akin to the content of a graphic novel. But in creating these plays for the theatre, McDowall has sought to fracture the imagined boundaries once presented by naturalism and in doing so reinterpreted these notions for the internet age.
McDowall takes us from Middlesbrough estates to the metropolis of Manchester via Pluto as he presents his interpretations of 21st Century living on the stage. Using these three works as a central point of reference, this paper will apply theories of place, loss, time, and comic books to uncover thematic links in the writer’s work. By positioning McDowall’s plays within an evolving cultural and technological landscape, the writer’s original voice emerges and presents us with familiar situations that are not as far removed from reality as they first seem.

Keywords:Alistair McDowall, New writing, Naturalism
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W810 Scriptwriting
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Fine Arts)
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ID Code:23360
Deposited On:30 Jun 2016 12:32

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