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Title: Towards a ludic ecology : popular participatory peripatetic performance
Author: Wilson, Robbie Zachariah
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 8814
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2018
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This practice-as-research project investigates the interrelations between performance, playfulness, and ecology, highlighting this as an important, though neglected, nexus of study in the current ecological context. I explore ways of performatively facilitating ludic interactions between people and their environments, investigate what benefits might accrue from doing so, examine the structure and significance of these interactions, and consider the role of performance training in their facilitation. Conducting practice-as-research 'in the wild' (cf. Hutchins, 1995) provides a unique and valuable perspective from which to interrogate current and historical thinking regarding play. The rigorous supporting rationale provided suggests potential areas of impact and value for the practice beyond the performances themselves and the qualitative evidence presented supports my argument that ludic (playful) performance can positively recalibrate participants' environmental attitudes and relations. In order to conduct this practical inquiry, I reflexively develop an original methodology: Popular Participatory Peripatetic Performance, or 4P for short. I fully integrate playfulness into three replicable models of practice, derived from 4P, each employing a different modality of peripatetic performance. They are: Perplexpedition - an intervention in public space; Wandercast - an audio-walk podcast; and Spinstallation - a performance workshop. Each of these forms a dynamic and responsive live artwork, enacted and documented in numerous iterations, allowing for reflexive development of the models themselves as well as the overarching 4P methodology; each constitutes research process and outcome. My aim in devising this tripartite approach has been to achieve significant comprehensiveness and also to render the project accessible and attractive to as wide a variety of participants as possible, thereby maximising its validity and the generalisability of its findings. Ecology is formulated here in line with Bateson's "ecology of mind" ([1972] 2000:xxiii), which seeks a holistic understanding of living systems through the recognition of far-reaching patterns and formal regularities. This project builds upon Bateson's notion that play constitutes one such pattern to develop the conceptual framework and practical approach that I term ludic ecology. I also employ Gibson's (1979) concept of affordance and draw on Kershaw's (2007) ecological approach to performance studies in ways which interdependently structure and support this project from both practical and theoretical perspectives. This project contributes primarily to three fields: ecological performance, through an original methodology and modes of practice; practice-as-research, through a novel theoretical stance and documentation techniques; and play-studies, by refining a distinction between play and playfulness and elucidating their philosophical status. This writing aims to clarify these contributions and thus position the project as "praxis" not only as "theory imbricated within practice" (Nelson, 2013:5), but also practice imbricated within theory.
Supervisor: Shaughnessy, Nicola ; Vass-Rhee, Freya ; May, Shaun Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available