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The Strategies of Dramas after the Postdrama Era in Mike Bartlett’s Cock

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2018, 31(1), pp.89-120
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Han Jae-eun 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

In recent years, a growing number of British playwrights are talking about contemporary social issues, and Mike Bartlett is definitely representative of the group. Most postdramatic theatres from the 1960s to the 1990s espoused the idea that the closed structure of text-based plays were inappropriate platforms for the experimental and ambiguous interests of postmodernism. By contrast, Bartlett’s Cock introduces controversial issues related to gender identity in a text-based, narrative-structured play. Cock depicts the conflict between a man and woman who are both lovers of the protagonist, John. Their arguments are likened to a cockfight, hence the title. As John’s dilemma deepens, the problems of gender fluidity and homonormativity are magnified, challenging the audiences to explore different views and possibilities. Bartlett provides pauses and points of interruption to allow the audience to focus on the text. This reminds us of postdramatic experiments that focused on the rhythm of text. Cock also has traditional features such as narrative storylines and symbolic characters, such as W, who represents the woman, M, the man, and F, the father. By placing them in a near-schematic narrative structure, this play gets the audience involved with John's decision in choosing a sexual identity. However, the play does not allow John to choose just one side. Instead, it has the audience witness the pressure that John is faced with while dealing with his issues. By using various types of narrative techniques, including postdramatic strategies, Cock suggests that text-dominant plays can effectively discuss sensitive issues. The play also reveals the direction in which dramas after the postdramatic era are heading.

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