Journey through the past: analysing performance in museums to promote multivocality in historical narratives through a self-devised piece, our footprints, in Bergtheil museum, Durban.
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation explores the role performance in museums might play through encouraging multivocality in the depiction and exploration of historical narratives in post-apartheid South Africa. The research is situated within the discipline of drama and performance studies, and focuses specifically on performing history in museums. In conducting this research, a case study approach has been adopted to examine the process of creating museum theatre. The main focus is on the self-devised, Performance-as-Research project, Our Footprints, performed in the Bergtheil Museum in Durban. Three other examples of museum theatre are considered, namely Brett Bailey‟s Exhibits A and B (2012 & 2013), This Accursed Thing (Jackson & Kidd, 2007) and the Triangle presentation (Talbot & Andrews, 2008). These examples are used to explore how performance can be employed alongside the traditional archive to bring history „to life‟ in museums. The theoretical component of this dissertation examines the manner in which performance and historical narratives are framed – using Erving Goffman‟s (1975) frame analysis. In addition, it considers how multiple perspectives can be promoted in museums through performance – using aspects of Mikhail Bakhtin‟s (1981/1994) theory of heteroglossia. The pre-existing case studies noted above offer different approaches and techniques for making museum theatre which link to these theoretical ideas. Similar concepts are then explored in Our Footprints. Museum theatre uses performance in sites that deal with historical narratives and artefacts torecreate‟ the past through action. This study explores how offering the audience the opportunity „physically‟ to experience the past through „participating‟ in performance, and connecting history to their personal lives and memories, creates possibilities for learning about, experiencing and remembering the past. Through this study I contribute to the body of knowledge in drama and performance studies and museum studies by exploring the potential of museum theatre in post-apartheid South Africa to bring different – and, sometimes dissenting – historical narratives, into contact with one another, thus promoting dialogue through performance. Our Footprints is an original production in a new area of drama that investigates performance‟s role in exploring the past in the present.