The anti-hero as social critic: Two original scripts

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2013-12

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Abstract

This dissertation will demonstrate how anti-heroic characters found in dramatic literature can serve as catalysts for a change in social discourse through questioning the nature of the social mechanisms which create the real-life antagonistic forces they struggle against. It focuses on a specific type of anti-hero which I have dubbed the un-hero, a dramatic protagonist who, whether by circumstances of birth or association (or lack thereof), finds himself situated in the position of outsider. The forces which relegated this character to this position often take the form of social norms and cultural hegemony, an assumed righteousness and rightness that places the character in the minority or in the position of the oppressed. From that position, the playwright uses the un-hero to wage war against the system through the dramatic narrative, exposing the inherent unfairness of the system with an eye toward altering the status quo, both in the world of the play as well as the real world of the viewing audience. As per the requirements for a Playwriting specialization PhD., two original full-length play scripts will be created to demonstrate the concepts examined in this dissertation.

Chapter 1 investigates the concept of the anti-hero in its various incarnations and the theoretical basis for the anti-hero as social commentator. Chapter 2 shows the historical basis for the dramatic anti-hero as social commentator through examples of dramatic works, focusing on two plays featuring prominent anti-heroic protagonists: Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. Chapter 3 describes the writing process which led to the creation of The Solution, an original play. This piece was written and produced before the bulk of the research for this dissertation was compiled and analyzed, and represents an early generalized attempt at creating an anti-heroic character. By comparison, Chapter 4 details the creation of the second original script, Aggroculture, which will incorporate the concepts discussed in the first two chapters of this dissertation regarding the un-hero. Chapter 5 draws conclusions and speculates into possibilities of continued research with the ideas presented in previous chapters. The scripts of the two original plays are included in the appendices.

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Keywords

Theatre, Anti-hero, Un-hero, White, Playwriting, The Solution, Aggroculture, Nazi, Mad, Scientist, Marijuana, Punk, Punk rock

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