Performing Pearl: Drama, Middle English Text and Performance Based Research in Medieval Studies
Committee MemberMcGillivray, Murray
Olsen, Kenna L.
Education--Language and Literature
Performance as Research
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AbstractCan formal performance help support research on medieval texts? Can performance help elucidate medieval texts to unfamiliar audiences? This thesis looks at my efforts over the past two years in my MFA attempting to answer these two questions. My research has covered formal performance practice and two experimental performance pieces which have sought to provide evidence in support of a long-term academic trajectory. My thesis examines my work over two stages handled in four chapters. The first two chapters illustrate development of performance practice. Chapter 2 looks at performance practice in the theatrical field and includes physical and vocal work, creative writing, and research methods. Chapter 3 looks at performance practice in the Medieval Studies field and includes historical context, manuscript studies and language studies. Ultimately, these two chapters attempt to demonstrate how we can bridge Theatre and Medieval Studies. The second two chapters look at my performance work itself. Chapter 4 discusses how I applied the contexts described in chapter 3 to my performances of two medieval poems, the Old English The Wanderer, and the Middle English Pearl. Chapter 5 discusses the development and presentation of both poems. For Pearl, I provide a scene-by-scene breakdown including images to discuss more fully how it felt to perform a medieval poem on stage. Ultimately, I believe my work has shown tremendous potential for performance work within the Medieval Studies framework. Future work will have to be done to answer continued questions. There are not obvious answers to these questions. As I proceed to my PhD, I will be pursuing these answers through what I have learned and developed in my MFA.
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