Inter-actor interaction : contributions to rehearsal and performance practice that attempt to minimize pre-agreed-upon performance structure and divided consciousness
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This dissertation presents and analyses original contributions to rehearsal and performance practice. Flow criticism - the use of flow theory to examine performance practice - is proposed as a tool for evaluating existing identification-oriented processes. Flow criticism demonstrates that several dimensions of flow are impeded by any process that simultaneously requires actor-character merger and the execution of pre-agreed-upon performance structures. In this circumstance, goals exist on one level of consciousness (the character) while feedback exists on another (the actor). The schism between these two dimensions of flow results in divided consciousness, which affects other flow dimensions: action and awareness cannot fully merge; actors cannot exercise control over the outcome of the fictional performance. A hypothesis is then advanced: this schism may be resolved by minimizing pre-agreed-upon performance structures. Following a version of the action research enquiry cycle modified by reflective practice and my conception of directorial practice, two projects were undertaken, resulting in the development of Inter-Actor Interaction, a rehearsal and performance approach that supports the structure-minimization hypothesis. The modified cycle - reflection-in-action, analysis-through-practice, reflection-on-action - is supported by a variety of research methods including rehearsal with actors, interviews, surveys, video strip analysis and reflective journaling. Presentation and analysis of Inter-Actor Interaction suggests that minimizing pre-agreed-upon performance structures may be achieved by introducing tensions: re-orienting the acting process from the communication of specifically chosen meanings to playing a psychophysical, interactive game whose outward manifestation is mediated by lenses derived from other levels of performance (such as character, world of the play and scripted text). Further evaluation shows that Inter-Actor Interaction successfully reduces the use of pre-agreed-upon performance structures, minimizes divided consciousness and supports flow experiences in actors.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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