Monash University

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Silk and Bullets Dramatising Fascism and Resistance: Recreating a Membrane between Past and Present

posted on 2018-07-24, 03:13 authored by Michelle Marianne Hallenberg Staur
This PhD thesis is a creative writing based research project. The key element is the full-length play of epic shape, Silk and Bullets, which deploys two major narratives moving in dramatic time between occupied Denmark in the 1940s and the corporate media world in contemporary London, sometime after the financial and economic meltdown in 2007-2008. The play is accompanied by an exegesis consisting of three components: the first deals with some of the dramaturgical issues involved in creating the play and its complex form; the second presents some of the historical background explaining the choices of material used in the
play (especially, of course, in the scenes set in the 1940s, but also in relation to the issues confronted by characters in the contemporary sections of the play); and the third locates Silk and Bullets in relation to the larger socio-economic and cultural post-war story and the neoliberal revolution, a topic which is central to the
‘argument’ of the play about the relations between past and present, about the emergence of collaboration between business and the politics of fascism, and about resistance. This last part also draws on examples of post-war British and occasionally American drama to demonstrate the ways in which the theatre has
remained an important vehicle for political and economic commentary. The main aim of the research project was to arrive at a dramatic structure of epic shape which could encompass and articulate the complex relationships between collaboration with and resistance to fascism, the mechanisms and processes of
these relationships in the past, and the recurrent features of such mechanisms and processes during the neoliberal revolution. A second aim was to find a means of representing in a dramatically satisfactory form how the presentation of the past remains an on-going project, relevant to the experience of the present.
Some additional interdisciplinary areas of research were a part of the contextual background of the project. Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, which emphasises the dialectic dynamic of inside and outside, interior and exterior, plays a role in the dramatic structural and spatial considerations of Silk and Bullets. Ronald D.
Winnicott’s concerns in the field of relational psychoanalysis inflect the themes of the play as well as the social and political considerations of the project. Above all the play and the whole project pay attention to the field of political economy and its role in historical processes. The project recognizes the ongoing challenges involved in negotiating history and politics in dramatic form. The play and the exegesis are contributions to that negotiation.


Principal supervisor

Christopher Worth

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Literary and Cultural Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Arts