Opening up the post-apocalyptic genre to previously absent British Asian narratives through creative writing

Hayer, Tajinder S. (2017) Opening up the post-apocalyptic genre to previously absent British Asian narratives through creative writing. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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Abstract

This submission consists of a post-apocalyptic play, North Country, and accompanying critical commentary. The creative work explores the city of Bradford and British Asian themes within a science fictional context. As a piece of writing, North Country is significant in terms of its subject matter and approach to genre; there is a notable shortage of British Asian writing and characters within a science fictional context (and a near absence when it comes to the post-apocalyptic genre, in particular). The critical commentary investigates six subject areas relating to the play: 1) the ways that the post-apocalyptic genre can be used to reframe British Asian tropes and aspects of wider British identity; 2) the ways that science fiction and British Asian strategies in dialect, naming and language choice can be used as generative tools; 3) the ways that psychogeographic research methodologies can be applied to playwriting; 4) the ways that such work can explore and represent the geographical and cultural specificity of Bradford; 5) the ways that the post-apocalyptic genre can be used to re-imagine Bradford, natural/urban space and notions of home; 6) the possible interpretations of the script in production and my own role as playwright in the production process. The play addresses the first of these subjects by using the post-apocalyptic genre as a tool of estrangement; it does reframe the familiar tropes of British Asian identity (predominantly narratives that focus on tensions regarding cultural change and continuity), and uses the apocalyptic rupture to also reapply these tropes to ‘indigenous’ Bradfordian, regional and national identities. The play’s subject matter places it is as an outlier within the contexts of British Asian theatre and science fiction. However, I demonstrate in the critical thesis that North Country is in dialogue with the traditions of both these fields. In particular, the thesis syntheses science fictional and British Asian approaches to ‘new’ and ‘unfamiliar’ languages and worlds; it illustrates the mutual strategies applied to world-building in both, but also outlines the tensions that come when dealing with ‘exotic’ language use. The geographical and cultural specificity of the play was generated through a psychogeographic research approach; the city of Bradford was investigated through a documented process of wandering on foot. This strategy for writing was informed by my autobiographical experiences and by a theoretical framework arising from my research into psychogeography. This approach created new information about the city of Bradford in the form of my prose psychogeographic account (subsumed in to chapter one of the thesis); it also created the play. I believe the documentation and explanation of this process constitutes a meaningful reflection on creative practice. I also document the various performances of the play at the following: the Arcola iii Playwrought New Writing Festival in 2015; Anglia Ruskin’s Covent Garden Studio in 2015; Eastercon in 2016; and a fully-staged production run in Bradford in 2016. These productions allowed me to reflect on my own status as ‘playwright in the rehearsal room’ and compare different interpretations of the script in different contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: British Asian, Post-apocalyptic theatre, Creative Writing
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2018 14:40
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2018 14:44
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/703598

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