The complexities of farce: with a case study on Fawlty Towers

Dario Dalla Costa

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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This thesis will counter the argument that farce is a simplistic dramatic form low in the theatrical hierarchy and demonstrate that it is both complex and multifaceted. It will be shown to have a long history and to have influenced many different dramatic forms. The thesis is in two sections. The first will explore farce in general, and the second will use the sitcom Fawlty Towers as a case study in order to explore the televisual mode and its relevance to the contemporary context. The question “What is farce?” will be answered in detail, thus developing an unambiguous perception of the genre which will form a contextual basis for the rest of the thesis. Recurring themes will be used to link chapters together and certain issues raised in early chapters will be expanded upon in later ones. A key aspect to be taken into consideration is the importance the physical plays in farce. Thus, my focus will be specifically on performance texts, and not limit itself to the “literary” texts. The theatrical hierarchy will be addressed directly, exploring why and how the genre has been delegated to the lowest rung of the hierarchical ladder. Such a classification will be destabilised and shown to be unfounded because it is based on such assumptions as tragedy being the “best” genre because it is tragedy, and farce the worst because it is farce. The conclusions made in this section will then be demonstrated by approaching farce in a more oblique manner through an exploration of Commedia dell’Arte and Medieval Carnival.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2004


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