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The development of the role of play in the theatre of Jean Anouilh.

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thesis
posted on 19.11.2015, 09:06 by A. W. Luckman
The first part of the thesis considers reviews of Anouilh's plays in the order in which they were first performed. The examination shows how the critics at first encouraged Anouilh as a young playwright of talent hut later showed only partial sensitivity to his style and technique, their judgements on his theatricalist approach often being affected by their emotional reaction to the content of his plays. Throughout Anouilh's career reviewers have noted new devices and developments as they have occurred. The second and more important part of the thesis examines the plays, again in chronological order, this time noting in greater detail how Anouilh's style develops and the way in which play increases in importance. There is a progression from simple references to role-playing, through individuals performing parts either alone or in concert with others, to the use of extracts from other works, flash-backs, dream-sequences and the like. This investigation also shows that as Anouilh's exploitation of play became more complex, so the mechanics of his theatre became more exposed. Each example of a variation in Anouilh's use of play is further discussed in terms of its significance to individual plays and to his theatre as a whole. This discussion reveals that he uses play to probe various aspects of the relationship between truth and fantasy. The conclusion reached is that after some hesitation and with numerous doubts, Anouilh's theatre seems, in general terms, to assert that fantasy is not only preferable to reality but even, perhaps, the greater truth. Life is depicted as degrading, but also as something that in the end has to be borne. Anouilh has imbued the device of play with surprising variety and expressed numerous ideas through it. Pervading all flows his apprehension of mankind's unhappy condition, to which, with the sensitivity of a poet, he has given expression in the form of drama.

History

Date of award

01/01/1975

Author affiliation

Modern Languages

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

Doctoral

Qualification name

PhD

Language

en

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