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2084: A study of the lyric in musical theatre

Courtis, Sarah (2019) 2084: A study of the lyric in musical theatre. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The lyric in musical theatre is often enjoyed as an art form: however, as yet, there are few extensive, theoretically informed analytical approaches to the performative text. This exegesis begins with an original script (including annotations) of 2084: a musical, before turning to a critical analysis of the lyric in contemporary musical theatre. Asking questions about the use of the lyric to craft meaning and engage with audiences on multiple levels of meaning-making, I use a mixed methodology of practice as research, semiotic interpretation and audience reception theory to explore ways in which the lyric can be approached. The study presents potential modes of lyrical analysis before putting them into practice through three case studies. The first examines Hamilton: an American Musical, in order to discuss methods of signification and the impact an audience’s context can have on interpretation. The second interrogates the lyrics of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, to explore questions concerning adaptation and anachronism. The third discusses the artefact 2084: a musical, through the lenses of the previous case studies, with focus on authorial intent and how it can be used to craft fluid meaning in the lyric. Finally, the exegesis concludes that the lyric as a literary and performative text has the potential to be crafted to be both aesthetically pleasing and to have deep meaning ingrained for a varied audience. This study opens up the vista of what is possible when approaching the lyric as a practitioner and theorist.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Creative Media, Arts and Design
Supervisor(s): Moody, David and De Reuck, Jennifer
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