The Wide White Stage: Representations of Antarctica in Theatrical Productions (1930-2011)

Type of content
Theses / Dissertations
Publisher's DOI/URI
Thesis discipline
Antarctic Studies
Degree name
Master of Antarctic Studies
University of Canterbury. Gateway Antarctica
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Nielsen, Hanne Elliot Fønss

This project examines representations of Antarctica in the theatre and analyses these in terms of space and place in order to chart the development of awareness of the continent. As examples of cultural production, plays and their treatment of imagined Antarctic space can provide insights into how attitudes towards the continent have developed and been expressed by revealing the dominant narratives at various points in time. A close reading of nine plays from 1930 – 2011 focuses on the use of mimetic and diegetic space within the theatre, examining the language used, stories told and attitudes present. Such analysis reveals the factors determining the choice of an Antarctic setting, be they ecological, political or metaphorical, whilst shedding light on how attitudes towards place, space and representation have changed within the theatre context.

These plays can be grouped under four thematic headings, namely “In Scott’s Footsteps,” “Retelling,” “Reimagining,” and “Returning.” While Antarctica remains a backdrop in earlier plays, where Heroic Era narratives are foregrounded, more recent productions have seen the continent come to the fore, where it is treated as part of a global web of connections. These plays illustrate a progression in how Antarctica has been represented upon the stage, a progression that parallels how we have thought about Antarctica in general.

Antarctic, Scott, Heroic Era, Theatre, Performance, Space, Place, Imagining
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
Copyright Hanne Elliot Fønss Nielsen