My thesis offers an evolved methodology of practice that acknowledges and utilises difference in performance, and offers a potential way forward for theatre practice. The methodology is addressed primarily to directors and teachers in both training and professional theatre environments, and therefore offers specific guidance on rehearsal room practice. In 2016, state funded theatres in the United Kingdom and Australia (the territories in which I locate the thesis) are still largely monocultural, both in terms of the people on stage and the people watching the work created. Whilst there are theatres that serve varied communities and engage with international and intracultural arts, there is still an imbalance whereby cultural representations reflecting society’s diversity are not seen on a consistent basis. The pace of change remains slow. Why is it that theatre has not yet moved beyond a homogenous world view to presenting a world that more accurately reflects society’s heterogeneity?
I have developed a methodology for directors, teachers and actors that seeks to speak back to these discriminatory practices by opposing the idea of ‘neutral’, in which actors’ differences are stripped away and “the assumption of a shared universality” (Bharucha, 2000: 35) is favoured. After all, the category of ‘neutral’ more often than not overlaps with the identity of the cultural authority, and so is not in fact politically neutral.
The methodology described in my thesis offers a pathway to step beyond notions of identity as “fixed” and instead engage with identity as something that is fluid and ever changing. For individuality to flourish, teachers and directors need to develop an understanding of how to embrace and play with difference on the rehearsal room floor and move their focus away from a “one approach fits all” mentality. The methodology outlined in my thesis offers teachers and directors the skills and freedom to work courageously with multifarious personalities and diverse historical narratives as a rich resource in the realisation of work for performance.
To read and download a copy of my thesis, click here. It is also via the University of East London ROAR site.