‘Standing in the shadows’?: Reframing homosexuality in musical theatre
AbstractThis thesis explores how the gay male is represented in musical theatre and considers how musical theatre writing practice can be utilised to create new iterations of the homosexual male character in musicals. The study has three main objectives: to explore the persistent patterns of gay representation in musicals, to investigate dominant heterosexual ideologies with musical theatre practice and to consider how I might create an intervention against the heterosexist, heterogenous norms of the form. Whilst there is existing scholarship that explores the connections between the homosexual male and the musical, both on stage and in the audience, there is little research examining the subject from the perspective of the musical theatre writer. This research addresses this gap by creating an original musical, Pieces of String, and providing an analysis of the creative process and the creative product. Whilst the investigation considers the Broadway/UK musical theatre canon, the primary focus is on contemporary musicals written and produced since 2000 which further contributes to the field and affords academic consideration to newer musicals which have not yet received such scholarly treatment. The study uses Sara Ahmed’s theory of queer fatalism, Daphne Brooks’ ‘occupation’ theory and Miller’s idea of the showtune as denial as frameworks through which to examine the existing texts and also to create an original work. The findings of this research question the cultural assumption that the musical is a gay genre, and conclude that the form actually repeatedly asserts its heterosexual hegemony. Pieces of String locates itself within that hegemony and subverts it through its inclusion of multiple leading gay characters and focus on gay-specific narratives.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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