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Title:"An Impossible Ambition"?: Roy Mitchell's Creative Idealism and the Spiritual Nexus Between Theatre and Theosophy
Author(s):Kivisto, Mikko William
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Davis, Peter A.
Department / Program:Theatre
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Though a participant of the Little Theatre Movement in North America, Roy Mitchell was largely ignored or---at best---marginalized by theatre practitioners and scholars after his death in 1944 until the late 1980s. Most of the material written about him had labelled him a prophet---a lone voice in the wilderness advocating for a new direction from a commercialized theatre struggling to survive the advent of film as a popular form of entertainment. He was also a major contributor to the theosophical movement as an author and lecturer; it could be argued that his belief in theosophy was more important to him than his work in theatre. Yet, this fact was given little attention by most theatre scholars who had written about him until recently, either mentioning it briefly or ignoring it outright. This study examined Mitchell's life and career in theosophy and theatre with the intention to reconcile these two apparently divergent aspects of his life. The complexity of Mitchell's identity prevented an easy placement in the context of North American theatre history and caused his marginalization in spite of his contributions as an artist. The methodology in this study is based on transnationalism. The justification for this was due to Mitchell's complex identity as an American-born Canadian who moved easily across the border between Canada and the United States, and who was directly involved with two movements (theosophy and the avant-garde) that were essentially transnational in scope. Through an examination of the historical context and biography of his life, his theosophical beliefs, his theories pertaining to theatre, and a case study of the potential practical application of his theories and beliefs in his production of The Chester Mysteries, this study will demonstrate that it was Mitchell's creative idealism that shaped his belief in a spiritual nexus between theosophy and theatre: each contributing to the other. This belief drove him to explore other cultures and new ways of producing theatre, placing him firmly in the avant-garde community and making him a major contributor to the Little Theatre movement in New York City and Toronto.
Issue Date:2009
Description:181 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3392094
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2009

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