New Perspectives on Home: Simon Stephens and Authorship in British Theatre

Catherine Love

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In his keynote speech at Theatertreffen in May 2011, Simon Stephens discussed how his confrontation with German theatre culture has irrevocably changed him as a playwright. He suggested that ‘when we travel abroad we see our home with a clarity that we may never have been offered before’, providing him with an intriguingly distanced perspective on British theatre culture. For Stephens, one focus of this new clarity has been his own role within the theatre-making process. His work in Germany – and in particular his relationship with director Sebastian Nübling – has transformed his understanding of theatre, from an art form with the playwright at its heart to a multi-authored, collaborative medium. This paper charts and investigates Stephens’ shifting notion of authorship as a result of his work in Europe and explores what implications this might have for evolving understandings of authorship within British theatre culture. By focusing on plays such as Pornography and Three Kingdoms, as well as drawing from interviews with Stephens, it suggests the potential of this collaborative approach for energising British writing traditions and challenging some of the restrictive assumptions that have congealed around the figure of the playwright in British theatre.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages19
JournalContemporary Theatre Review
Issue number3
Early online date22 Sept 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sept 2016

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