Award Date

5-1-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Theatre

First Committee Member

Lezlie Cross

Second Committee Member

Brian Smallwood

Third Committee Member

Nate Bynum

Fourth Committee Member

Nathan Tanouye

Number of Pages

82

Abstract

Collaborative writing has produced some of the world’s most important work for the stage, especially in the field of multidisciplinary theatre, which includes musical theatre, operetta, spectacle theatre, circus, ballet, and any other form of theatre employing multiple modes of performance (i.e. music, dance, acting, mime, etc.). Without collaborative writing teams, we would retain little of the multidisciplinary theatrical repertoire that has been produced in the past 120 years.

I argue that although the solo creative genius holds a position of great esteem in Western culture, creative collaboration has long been a more reliable, if less romantic, approach to the complex art of writing for the stage. In this thesis, I will look at successful collaborative writing for commercial musical theatre, in order to uncover effective collaborative methodologies and techniques. I will demonstrate that there are many effective approaches to collaborative writing for the stage, but these approaches have important commonalities. Most important among these commonalities, successful commercial collaboration is consistently marked by an overriding commitment to a unity of concept that guides the work of all the collaborators involved.

I will base my findings on two contrasting case studies: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, and Disney Theatrical’s stage version of The Lion King, directed by Julie Taymor. Both productions were among the most commercially successful Broadway musicals of their times, and both were produced through collaborative processes, but they differed in very significant ways. The two shows were created with a different scope and scale from one another, and they each employed extremely different internal hierarchies. The differences in their development make them excellent case studies for a comparison of collaborative methodology.

This study provides a framework for effective collaborative writing for commercial theatre. It helps to distinguish the most effective processes for collaborative, commercial theatrical writing, providing useful insights for practical application. Furthermore, it suggests concrete and specific processes that can be used by collaborators who are writing for the commercial stage. In musical theatre, a field in which collaboration is not only desirable, but often necessitated by circumstances, insights into creative collaborative processes are valuable, and worth the attention of a study such as this one.

Keywords

authorship; composition; creativity; directing; music; playwriting

Disciplines

Theatre and Performance Studies

Language

English


Share

COinS