The Role of the Writer and Authorship in New Collaborative Performance-Making in the United Kingdom from 2001-2010

Sigal, Sarah. 2013. The Role of the Writer and Authorship in New Collaborative Performance-Making in the United Kingdom from 2001-2010. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century, the changing statuses of the writer and the text have not only been reflective of the ways in which collaborative theatre-making processes involving writing have changed, but are also emblematic of how theatre-makers have positioned themselves within the rapidly shifting cultural and economic climate in the UK. This thesis seeks to discover what shifts have occurred as well as future implications for the role of the commissioned writer. Its prime focus is an investigation of the working methods of three different generations of collaborating companies in the UK and the commissioned writers with whom they work: Shared Experience, Frantic Assembly and Filter Theatre.

This investigation is structured on a company-by-company basis, examining two productions from each company (each written by different writers or writer/directors) as examples of writer-company collaborative practice, comparing one to the other in order to understand each company and writer’s approach to working collaboratively. It addresses such issues as, what is the role of the writer in new collaborative theatre-making culture in the UK and how it has been influenced by historical debates and practices regarding the role of the writer and the text: how texts can be produced in different processes that involve a writer; how authorship is negotiated by practice between writers and other creative collaborators; and the extent to which the models or processes of working analyzed here have originated from or been influenced by historical collaborative practice. This investigation utilizes interviews with practitioners involved in the development of these productions as well as company archival material and analyzes relevant contemporary texts and performances as well as the work of historical practitioners that has informed the legacy of these the three contemporary companies. In addition to performance theory, this thesis will draw on management and branding theory, in order to interrogate the relationship between hierarchy and the creative process, within the context of the changing cultural, economic and political climate of the early twenty-first century.

This thesis will propose that historical practices of writing and collaboration and the distinct strands of working that evolved from it have a significant relationship to, and can illuminate contemporary practice as well as serve as historical models of working; some of the approaches to collaborative writing used by Shared Experience, Frantic Assembly and Filter Theatre can be considered either conscious copying or modification of an extant practice or accidental imitations which arose from similar cultural circumstances but embodied the same basic idea of an extant practice. This thesis will also propose that Shared Experience, Frantic Assembly and Filter Theatre and the commissioned writers and writer/directors with whom they have collaborated have developed a flexible process of working in order to allow for negotiation and serve their particular production and artistic goals. The role of an individual writer can change from company to company and production to production and therefore the author or authors of the piece might include not only the writer, but also the director, performers, designer and/or dramaturg. Ultimately, this thesis will look to the future by providing a framework with which performance scholars and emerging practitioners can better understand and also continue to develop writer-company collaborative practice.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)



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Date Deposited:

06 Nov 2013 09:51

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:45


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