Leeds Beckett University
TellingLifeStoriesAutobiographicalPerformanceInTheThirdAngelRepertoire-KELLY.pdf (13.28 MB)

Telling Life Stories Autobiographical performance in the Third Angel repertoire

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posted on 2022-11-14, 13:50 authored by Alexander Kelly
This study explores the contribution of three solo performances created by Alexander Kelly and Third Angel to the field of autobiographical performance: Class of ’76, The Lad Lit Project and Cape Wrath. The three Existing Published Works are preceded by a contextual, critical synopsis and a Timeline of Submitted and Related Projects, positioning them in their immediate context of Third Angel’s 22 years of practice. The study recognises the political potential of autobiographical work to give voice to those whose stories are often overlooked by the dominant media around us as the central argument for the value of this work. Consequently it considers what the ethical implications are of using autobiographical performance to tell other people’s stories. Chapter 1 introduces the study, and identifies the key literature that has framed and informed the work: Heddon’s Autobiography and Performance, Govan et al’s Making A Performance and Maguire’s Performing Story on the Contemporary Stage. Chapter 2, Mapping The Territory, identifies the key themes that have emerged in this theoretical consideration of autobiographical performance in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, notably the importance of authenticity, the construction of the self, the role of persona, the relationship to place. It places the work in a lineage of devised and autobiographical performance, notably the work of Spalding Gray, Bobby Baker and Bryony Kimmings. Chapter 3, Telling Other People’s Stories, identifies the importance and impact of the submitted projects. Recognising the devising methodology of the work, the different roles of Kelly (deviser, writer and performer) and his principal collaborator Rachael Walton (director) are identified. Through exploration of a process of real world investigation, the study demonstrates a model of reportage performance that tells both the stories uncovered and the story of their discovery. Autobiographical narratives are utilised as a frame to explore wider themes and to tell other people’s stories. Processes that solicit and value contributions of auto/biographical stories from participants facilitate the construction of ‘multi-author solo-performances’ that give voice to those not positioned or inclined to make performances of their own. Re-telling these stories, performers find their own resonances, and place their own emphases. Therefore mechanisms need to be deployed that genuinely invite contributions, and recognise the responsibility we have as researcher performance-makers to the stories and lives that we tell. Through producing performances that ‘show their working’, these autobiographical works invite audiences to imagine, and even make, their own versions, in recognition that everyone has a story worth telling, and worth hearing. The three projects are presented in their own volumes that detail their intentions, their unique devising processes and the evolution of the performance material. The full touring history of each show is included, alongside a demonstration of its critical reception and impact. Finally, each is represented with photographs and a full performance text or transcript.


Qualification name

  • PhD


Morris, Simon

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


Qualification level

  • Doctoral


  • eng


Leeds Beckett University

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