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Title: Motion in poetry : a psychophysical, action-based approach to the composition and analysis of metrical dramatic verse
Author: Askew, Benjamin
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 5993
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2016
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Why do so few contemporary dramatists write in metrical verse? One of the chief criticisms levelled at modern verse drama has been that playwrights’ use of verse fails to cohere with contemporary notions of dramatic action. As action-playing is largely a matter of text in performance, this thesis assumes that the best way to meet this challenge is to approach it as much from the perspective of the actor as from that of the playwright, and presents a psychophysical, action-based approach to the composition and analysis of metrical dramatic verse. Verse rhythm is explored through the application of Rudolf Laban’s concepts of Motion Factors and Working Actions, and with reference to contemporary theories of cognitive poetics. The rhythms of metrical verse are thereby understood and experienced as purposeful movements of the human body which are, in turn, understood and experienced as the psychophysical sensations of dramatic action. This approach, given the title of the Verse Psychology Game, draws together three original concepts: 1. Creating and interpreting dramatic texts according to Stanislavskian notions of action is a game, with the playwright as ‘gamewright’ and the actors as players. 2. The Motion in Poetry Metaphor: a conceptual metaphor that builds on the principles of the Laban-Malmgren System of ‘movement psychology’, allowing verse rhythms to be understood and experienced as embodied sensations of psychophysical dramatic action. 3. Hyperactivity: an ‘intensified’ form of action-playing that operates beyond the limits of ‘naturalistic’ performance. This enables a ‘specialist game’ in which verse serves a hyperactive dramatic function. Within this framework, metrical dramatic verse can be created and interpreted on the basis of its performative potential. This is demonstrated through the development of a new methodology for metrical analysis, ‘actorly’ interpretations of Shakespearean dramatic verse, a series of training exercises that ‘sensitise’ the playwright to the performative potential of verse rhythm, and the creation of original material for a new verse play. This approach also aids actors, directors and teachers when making interpretative choices. The theories and techniques of the Verse Psychology Game are pedagogical tools that can contribute to broader programmes on dramatic writing and inform the methodologies of conservatoire actor-training.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Drama ; Acting ; Poetry Writing