Through ‘the Gauntlet’: creating multi-representative practices of community and ‘dialogic gaze’ using compassion-based exercises in a feminist actor training

PhD Thesis

Blackstone, D. 2020. Through ‘the Gauntlet’: creating multi-representative practices of community and ‘dialogic gaze’ using compassion-based exercises in a feminist actor training. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Creative Arts and Industries
AuthorsBlackstone, D.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

This thesis explicates a practice as research exploration of how we can create multirepresentative (‘inclusive’) practices in ensemble actor training through the use of compassion-based practices.

The main argument is that compassion-based practices in ensemble actor training create community as a transformative entity per bell hooks’s and Audre Lorde’s definitions. The
understanding of self and others’ similarities and differences are necessary for community and enabled through reciprocal exchange, which Mikhail Bakhtin calls ‘dialogic’.
Understood in this way, community both enables and requires a practice I offer called the ‘dialogic gaze’, a critical perspective that interrogates rehearsal and performance
communications and interactions on behalf of the representation of the identities and experiences of all members.

My practice-based methodology explores compassion-based exercises for their potential to create community and dialogic gaze. The through-line of these explorations is ‘the Gauntlet’, an exercise focusing on voiced acknowledgments of similarity that I have adapted to also recognize difference. I locate myself as a pedagogic practitioner-researcher and thus facilitate these practices in three different training workshops with three various ensembles. Using qualitative methods, I garner and analyse behaviours, communications, and feedback from ensemble members during rehearsal and performance of a subsequent group devised piece.

Through moments of dialogic gaze and community, these practices support multi-represented ensemble work towards autonomy in theatre making that challenges ingrained patterns of cultural production and process, and aid practice in the dissolution of wider social oppressions that may evidence in rehearsal and training rooms.

My research has both conceptual and practical contributions: in the dialogic gaze as a named,
multi-representative practice, and in the compassion-based practices that create and perpetuate both dialogic gaze and community in ensemble actor training. These can be
extrapolated to ensemble practice in industry and societal groups beyond.

KeywordsMulti-representative practices of community; Compassion-based exercises; Feminist actor training
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Deposited22 Nov 2021
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