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Title: "Unpack my heart with words" : a proposal for an integrated rehearsal methodology for Shakespeare (and others) combining active analysis and viewpoints
Author: Skelton, Gerald P.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 3159
Awarding Body: Kingston University
Current Institution: Kingston University
Date of Award: 2016
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The performance of Shakespeare represents a distinct challenge for actors versed in the naturalistic approach to acting as influenced by Stanislavsky. As John Barton suggests, this tradition is not readily compatible with the language-based tradition of Elizabethan players. He states that playing Shakespeare constitutes a collision of 'the Two Traditions' (1984, p. 3). The current training-based literature provides many guidelines on analysing and speaking dramatic verse by Shakespeare and others, but few texts include practical ways for contemporary performers to embrace both traditions specifically in a rehearsal context. This research seeks to develop a new actor-centred rehearsal methodology to help modern theatre artists create performances that balance the spontaneity and psychological insight that can be gained from a Stanislavsky-based approach with the textual clarity necessary for Shakespearean drama, and a physical rigour which, I will argue, helps root the voice within the body. The thesis establishes what practitioner Patsy Rodenburg (2005, p. 3) refers to as the need for words, or the impulse to respond to events primarily through language, as the key challenge that contemporary performers steeped in textual naturalism confront when approaching Shakespeare and other classical playwrights. The research offers a rehearsal methodology to meet this challenge. The methodology synthesises Stanislavsky's late-career extension of the 'system' referred to as Active Analysis, and Viewpoints, a technique of movement improvisation derived from contemporary dance by choreographer Mary Overlie and further adapted by directors Anne Bogart and Tina Landau. Active Analysis is an innovative method of textual analysis that centres on a series of improvisations, or études, which serve as successive blueprints toward performance. Viewpoints is a technique that offers a clear and accessible vocabulary related to principles of time and space as a way to create and evaluate stage movement. My study illustrates how these two techniques might be used in tandem to invite actors to discover the need for words in a rehearsal context. This combined methodology was developed through a series of three practical research laboratories related to The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. A fourth laboratory served to extend the combined methodology to a pre-Shakespearean classical text by focusing on the unattributed medieval morality play Mankind. Accounts of these laboratories are used to illustrate a 'director's anatomy' of the development and implementation of the methodology. The thesis concludes with my proposal for an integrated rehearsal practice that can help contemporary actors experience the language-based performance tradition related to Shakespeare and other classical playwrights. The research contributes to the current literature on playing Shakespeare and others by offering a set of principles and a responsive rehearsal model informed by those principles, whilst also providing illustrations of how they might be employed in the production process. The methodology can be utilised in both educational and professional settings. My deep engagement with Active Analysis and Viewpoints means that I am able to contribute to practice, training and scholarship related to each, extending previous enquiries into these systems. The findings can also be applied more generally to the literature and practice of acting, directing and textual analysis.
Supervisor: Smart, Jackie ; Mermikides, Alex Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Drama, dance and performing arts