Musicality and the act of theatre: developing musicalised dramaturgies for theatre performance

Frendo, Mario (2013) Musicality and the act of theatre: developing musicalised dramaturgies for theatre performance. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This research project is aimed at investigating musicality and theatre, and seeks to develop “musicalised dramaturgies” as dramaturgies for performances that venture beyond representation. The musical dimension is approached as an ontological aspect of theatre manifested in the work of the performer and in the process of dramaturgy as developed kinaesthetically with respect to the audience. The somatic dimension of the theatre act is investigated in terms of rhythmic and melodic associations which are proposed as sources of action in musicalised dramaturgies. The study looks at the conditions of musicality as dramaturgy by exploring the possibilities of developing performance processes generated by rhythms, tempos, and melodies as elements of the musical condition.

The study acknowledges important developments that took place in the wake of theatre reforms at the turn of the twentieth century that gave more space to the presence
of the actor in the creation of performance. These led to a ‘turn-to-performance’ in theatre which, since the 1960s, characterised practical research where practitioners
challenged traditions and pushed boundaries in order to develop non-representational practices. Gradually the theatre event shifted from serving as a basic means of
communication of messages to a process where experiences are shared by performers and audiences. Contemporary scholarship acknowledges these developments in terms of a postdramatic critical framework where hierarchies and subordinations in the organisation of the work give way to equality and simultaneity of means. The postdramatic context serves as a theoretical foundation around which this study is set.

Investigations were conducted via practical and theoretical analysis. Practical research was done in collaboration with Italian professional theatre ensemble Laboratorio Permanente di Ricerca sull’Arte dell’Attore (Permanent Research Laboratory on the Art of the Actor), and followed two complementary strands, viz. preexpressive and performance work. The pre-expressive strand had two levels: i. daily work with the actors where the research issues were put into practice and developed with professional actors, and ii. workshops and stages for University students, amateur actors, and laypersons interested in the work. The performance strand developed as a theatre work entitled Welcoming the End of the World. The piece was premièred in Malta in July 2011, and served as context where musicalised dramaturgies were put into practice and used creatively as foundations for performance.

Theoretical considerations are discussed in a written document accompanying video documentation of Welcoming the End of the World. The written part examines the work of Konstantin Stanislavsky on rhythm and tempo-rhythm, and contributions made by Jerzy Grotowski with respect to what I argue are ideas of “embodied musicality” in his theatre making. The work of Grotowski is discussed in light of the claim for an Apollonian-Dionysian bond proposed by Nietzsche in his The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music, published in 1872. The research also refers to recent developments in theatre practice including the work of Eugenio Barba, and critical discourses expounded by Henry Lefebvre, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-Luc Nancy. In various ways their ideas inform the investigations and provide this research project with a critical foundation with respect to which musicality is proposed as dramaturgy for theatre performance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Music
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2013 07:56
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:50

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