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(RE) creating a theatre of myth : pedagogy and cultural heritage in a theatre for Cypriot youth

By Charis Polycarpou


This thesis will argue that the contemporary educational system of Cyprus denies\ud young people opportunities to participate in the creation of their culture, which can\ud provide the nest for the exploration and understanding of their individual and\ud collective lives. Culture, in schools, is treated not as a dynamic process in which the\ud young people can play the main role but instead as a static field of knowledge that\ud should be studied and learnt. This approach, however, contradicts the same principles\ud that were the foundations of the ancient culture that the young Greeks have inherited\ud from the past whose performative and participatory nature ascribed to it a proactive\ud and democratic public life that guaranteed everyone the right to speak and act. This\ud thesis argues that the Greek young people of contemporary Cyprus should be entitled\ud to participation in recreating and reconstructing the meanings and values of those\ud stories that have inherited from the past and that bind them together as one people in\ud ways that help them make sense of their contemporary private and public roles. The\ud thesis argues that the myths of the past should be reinterpreted and repositioned again\ud in the present to respond to the immediate social context of the young people in a\ud participatory and democratic way so as to enable a progress of this culture and a\ud connection between the past, the present and the future. The thesis shows that culture\ud is under continuous reconstruction taking on the example of fifth century BC Athens\ud where theatre and public life fed one another and developed to respond to the current\ud socio-historical context of the time. Throughout, the thesis shows in what ways\ud theatre can provide the means for the investigation of the inherent meanings in the\ud myths of the past and also its significance in playing the role of the social agent that\ud can enable transformation and progress.\ud The thesis consists of an introduction, eight chapters and a conclusion. In the\ud Introduction I identify the problem that exists in the contemporary educational system\ud of Cyprus concerning the way that the field of culture is approached and present the\ud conceptual framework that provides the foundation for proposing a new Theatre of\ud Myth. Chapter one provides a critical reflection on and analysis of the oral culture of\ud Homer to the democratic fifth century BC Athens and the birth of tragedy. Chapter\ud two studies, both from the ideal and the material aspect, the social role of the\ud Athenian tragic theatre and its polis during the fifth century. Chapter three seeks to\ud base the arguments made in the thesis of the educational and political role of the fifth\ud century theatre through a critical analysis of its form and content. Chapter four\ud identifies and supports the principles of the proposed Theatre of Myth, drawing from\ud the twentieth century developments in Modem Drama whilst chapter five shows how\ud the Drama-in-Education tradition attempts to bridge the practices in the Modem\ud Drama paradigm to come closer to the proposed theatre model. Chapter six provides\ud the methodology followed for a pilot case study that attempts to transfer the Theatre\ud of Myth into practice, which is the preoccupation of chapter seven. Chapter eight\ud discusses and analyses the findings of the case study to inform the theoretical lines of\ud the model of the Theatre of Myth. Some conclusions are discussed concerning the\ud potential and the limitations of the Theatre of Myth in the end of the thesis

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