By the same authors

Staging the Séance: The Spirit Medium and the Gothic in Modern Theatre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)



Publication details

Title of host publicationContemporary Gothic Drama
DateSubmitted - 2018
DateAccepted/In press - Jan 2018
DatePublished (current) - 14 Aug 2018
Number of pages20
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
EditorsKelly Jones, Robert Dean, Benjamin Poore
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-349-95359-2
ISBN (Print)978-1-349-95358-5

Publication series

NamePalgrave Gothic
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


In this chapter, I set out to explore how Anglophone theatre in the 20th and 21st century has tried to represent the spiritualist séance. As I will show, this often involves allusions to the performance conditions and contexts of spiritualism’s nineteenth-century heyday. In the last few years, I will argue, the depiction of the séance has begun to move away from Gothic narratives of encounters with an unnameable evil, and back towards the séance’s show-business roots in commercial entertainment. Anglophone theatre has a legacy of séance plays to come to terms with whenever a medium is represented on stage, particularly in the form of Noel Coward’s classic comedy Blithe Spirit (1941). Therefore, I contend, attempts by contemporary playwrights to write séance scenes and create spirit medium characters are haunted by the theatrical past, as much as by the past of their own narrative worlds.


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