Bringing dance into the realm of theatre : Making sense differently for actors and audiences

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study investigates what happens when dance is introduced into the realm of theatre. Firstly, it looks at how the audience relates to the combination of dance and text. Secondly, it questions whether dance contributes to the actors’ experience of creating a play. To explore these questions, two productions were created. The first was an adaptation of an existing play text that had already been performed in a realistic style; and the second was based on a novel, a text that was not originally written for performance, but which was adapted. The study argues that the presence of dance allows the audience to understand a play more viscerally, rather than only intellectually. Furthermore, it finds that adding the physicality of dance helps actors access emotions in a different way than working with only a script would allow them. The study draws on the theories and practices of a number of theatre practitioners such as Antonin Artaud, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Eugenio Barba, and dance choreographer Pina Bausch. It also focuses on Mathew Reason and Dee Reynolds’s theorizing of ‘kinesthetic empathy’as well as Josephine Machon’s theory of ‘visceral performance'.

Includes bibliographical references.