Loughborough University
Thesis-2017-TylerMcTighe.pdf (34.03 MB)

Contemporary Shakespeares: adapting, theatre-making and ghosting

Download (34.03 MB)
posted on 2022-11-14, 09:15 authored by Daniel J. Tyler-McTighe

This thesis focuses on the adaptation of well-known plays by Shakespeare in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through theatrical production. I approach the topic as a theatremaker and practice-led researcher. The written element of the project sets the foundations for, charts the development, and analyses the outcomes of three research productions created between 2013 and 2015 which were adaptations of The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet. The artefacts of these productions (DVDs, scripts, photographs and programmes) are integral parts of this thesis.

My main areas of focus are the theoretical and practical issues around adaptation, specifically intramedial adaptation (in this case, theatre-to-theatre); contemporary theatre-making and how one significant movement within it – immersive theatre – aligns with postmodern productions of Shakespeare’s plays; and finally, I apply Marvin Carlson’s theoretical work on ghosting practically and thereby develop and build on his ideas.

Key enquiries are into: (1) the range of ways in which adapters deal with Shakespeare’s text; (2) how the contemporary theatre spectator can be seen – and treated – as an active agent in the adaptation process; and (3) the ways in which past iterations and incarnations of performance texts influence and ghost new productions. Focusing on reception, I look at the fragmented audience with regards to their prior knowledge and related expectations of well-known texts and how these influence their experience of new adaptations.

Other than Carlson, I draw on the work of Josephine Machon and Charles Marowitz as well as the practices of Punchdrunk and Diane Paulus among others. I look at milestone productions of the last thirty years by primarily European and North American theatremakers and companies. I include analyses based on my own reception as an audience member of Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More, RIFT’S Macbeth, Thomas Ostermeier’s Hamlet, and the American Repertory Theatre’s The Donkey Show.

The project has resulted in:

• the creation of three pieces of theatre.

• contributions to the current study of theatrical adaptation.

• audience reception data and analysis which contributes towards conclusions on the spectator’s position in contemporary theatre pieces.

• findings based on a practical implementation of Marvin Carlson’s theoretical work on ghosting.

I argue for progressive approaches to adaptation theory, especially in the here-to underexplored area of intramedial theatrical adaptation; the establishment of the audience as collaborator and therefore crucial to the theatre-making process; and further research including into the practical implications of Carlson’s ghosting, in particular my notion of unscenes which has been developed by this research. 


Loughborough University, Graduate School.



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • English and Drama


Loughborough University

Rights holder

© Daniel Tyler-McTighe

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en


Mick Mangan

Qualification name

  • PhD

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

This submission includes a signed certificate in addition to the thesis file(s)

  • I have submitted a signed certificate