Authorized absence: theatrical representations of authorship in three contemporary ghost plays

Jones, Kelly (2012) Authorized absence: theatrical representations of authorship in three contemporary ghost plays. Studies in Theatre and Performance, 32 (2). pp. 165-177. ISSN 1468-2761

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This article explores the role of the author in three contemporary plays which feature ghosts and ghost stories: Stephen Mallatratt’s The Woman in Black (1987), Michael Punter’s Darker Shores (2009) and Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s Ghost Stories (2010). All three plays engage with questions regarding the agency of authorship and its relationship to theatricality and ghostliness. Each play stages an author-figure, who during the course of the play is exposed as vulnerable, at the mercy of theatrical possibility, overwhelmed or held to ransom by his own authorial account of a series of spectral encounters. In each play, then, the playwrights/authors (Punter, Mallatratt, Nyman and Dyson), in what can be interpreted as a powerful exposition on the post-structuralist concern with ‘the death of the author’, stage an author figure who is exposed as unable to contain or direct the meaning or effect of the story according to their intention. In so far as this demise of authorial control is directed by the playwrights themselves, each of these three plays theatricalises not so much the death as the suicide of the author, enacted within the dramatic text itself. In staging the author as a vulnerable figure in this way, each play invites a spirited interrogation as to how authorial agency is exploited, seemingly expelled, but ultimately returns to haunt the performances of all three plays.

Keywords:authorship, theatricality, ghost plays, authority, haunting, representation
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:7366
Deposited On:25 Jan 2013 20:27

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