Research AssistantDepartment of Literature, History of Ideas, and
About Sandra Grehn
“They mess around and scuffle and throw stones”. The staging and hybridization of dominant discourses in Backa Theatre’s productions Little King Matt, Gangs of Gothenburg and 5boys.com
In my dissertation, I examined the dominant discourses concerning youth gang membership, childhood and citizenship, and boys and masculinity, as they were staged and hybridized in the productions Lille kung Mattias (Little King Matt) and Gangs of Gothenburg directed by Mattias Andersson and 5boys.com directed by Anja Suša, performed at Backa Theatre from 2009‒2012.
Backa Theatre is a branch of The Gothenburg Civic Theatre in Sweden that has since 1978 been responsible for performing for children and young people in Gothenburg and the surrounding area. Backa Theatre is also known internationally, having performed at theatres and festivals in four continents. Since 2006, the actor, writer and director Mattias Andersson has been Backa Theatre's artistic director under whose leadership the theatre has won a number of awards. In 2009 they received The Swedish Theatre Critics' Children's and Youth Theatre Award for Little King Matt, directed by Mattias Andersson. Beyond Sweden, the show was played at the Nordic Cool Theatre Festival in Washington DC 2013. 5boys.com, directed by Anja Suša, was selected for the Performing Arts Biennale in Jönköping, Sweden in 2013 and at A Week of Slovenian Drama in Kranjc 2013. The previous year the production received the Swedish Entertainment Guide's Award for "Impressive community engagement and a newly written play many theatres in Sweden could only dream of creating".
The following research questions are central in the thesis:
• In what ways are dominant discourses about children and young people reproduced and/or hybridized in Backa Theatre's performances of Little King Matt, Gangs of Gothenburg and 5boys.com? The focus here is on the discourses of gang membership, citizenship and masculinity. How are ideas concerning gender, sexuality, race and age discernible in these discourses?
• How are these discourses aesthetically constructed with regard to casting, dramaturgy, direction and scenography/ the use of space?
• What representations of children and young people can be seen as resulting from the treatment of these discourses in these performances?
The relevance of this study has several dimensions. Since Backa Theatre is funded specifically for targeting young audiences, it is important to investigate their results on a deeper level. Backa Theatre's young audiences come from a wide variety of economic and social backgrounds representing different attitudes toward child-raising. To a very large extent, they attend the theatre under the auspices of their schools. Therefore, by investigating the representation of children and young people staged in Backa Theatre's performances, this study has cultural/political ramifications.
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