The dead room : reflexivity, recursion and memory in the act of autobiographical scriptwriting

Monks, Richard and Farley, Paul (2017) The dead room : reflexivity, recursion and memory in the act of autobiographical scriptwriting. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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During the course of this practice-based PhD I intend to explore the themes of family, memory and time by researching and writing a feature-length screenplay that will draw on research into autobiographical scriptwriting, establishing a direct and substantive dialogue between my own practice and the work of other recent writers for screen and radio who have explored similar themes. According to Blake Morrison, in his book Too True, ‘Truth becomes the first casualty of a good story.’ Through ongoing reflection upon my emergent work, I intend to explore this statement and examine the boundaries between fact and fiction within autobiographical writing focusing on the work of such writers as Alan Bennett, looking in particular at his recent plays The Lady in the Van and Cocktail Sticks, and the autobiographical work of the film-maker Terence Davies. I will also attempt to identify and explore structural principles shared by scriptwriters and poets such as Tony Harrison, to test how fluid the boundaries are between what are routinely treated as separate subjects; in this sense, the project, with my developing writing at its core, has an interdisciplinary dimension. The creative project will constitute 80% of my PhD studies. The premise for the screenplay is as follows: Having written an autobiographical radio play, a writer invites his parents and his sister to the studio to watch the recording. The screenplay shifts between different time frames as the writer’s version of events are disputed by members of his own family. Whilst the screenplay will explore the proposed research questions within a practical framework, a reflective study, written in parallel, and constituting 20% of the PhD, will formally engage with aspects of critical theory and creative practice. Following principles of ‘practice as research’ and ‘discovery through doing’ recently established in the arts, the entire project attempts to establish a useful dynamic between creative act and critical reflection. Both the creative writing project and the thesis will be integrated, with theoretical analysis feeding directly into the scriptwriting process and vice-versa. As well as reflecting on my own emergent writing by analysing the on-going creative process within the reflective thesis, an interview with the writer and dramatist Alan Bennett will also inform the exegesis.

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Thesis (PhD)
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29 Jan 2018 12:22
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:41