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Thick Description/Thin Lines: Writing about process in Contemporary Performance

Allain, Paul (2016) Thick Description/Thin Lines: Writing about process in Contemporary Performance. Contemporary Theatre Review, 26 (4). pp. 485-495. ISSN 1048-6801. (doi:10.1080/10486801.2016.1216409)

Abstract

The author draws on his experience working with two theatre companies, the Gardzienice Theatre Association of Poland and the Suzuki Company of Toga, Japan, to explore questions about authority in writing about process in contemporary performance. He asks how from an ‘embedded’ position the researcher can stand back to appraise theatre practice fully and objectively – the kind of approach that Geertz called ‘thick description’ where personal field observations are then contextualised. This raises questions about how the majority of theatre scholarship operates, following Susan Melrose’s view that much of it is ‘expert spectator studies’, ie based on watching performances. Issues of ownership in writing are then explored further regarding the author’s difficulties in publishing a journal article in which the views expressed in interviews cited in the piece were considered ideologically unacceptable by the editor. The author asks if the practice and its interpretation in writing are one and the same thing. He posits that certain ‘lines’, some quite evident and others less tangible, exist in theatre scholarship of this kind that engages with process. He argues that issues about such lines and where authority lies in such writing need to be opened up for further scrutiny.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/10486801.2016.1216409
Uncontrolled keywords: actor training, contemporary performance, Polish theatre,research methods
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theatre
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > Drama and Theatre
Depositing User: Paul Allain
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2017 10:30 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 17:53 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/57466 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Allain, Paul: https://orcid.org/http://0000-0001-5624-810X
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