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Chaos/complexity and the processes of devised theatre

Hancock, Alan (2001) Chaos/complexity and the processes of devised theatre. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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What are the processes whereby the members of a theatre company work together over a period of weeks or months in order to create a piece of performance through collaborative devising? Put very simply, this is the question that I want to answer through this research. I want to examine this in some detail, in order to discover how a director can best facilitate the processes of collaborative creativity. My central argument is that the process is one characterised by complexity rather than linearity, and is best analysed through the paradigm of chaos/complexity.

Traditional models of theatre analysis assume a linear structure for the production process, and are located in a Newtonian world view. The processes of theatre-making tend to be seen as mechanistic, and amenable to a reductionist analysis. When employed in the study of devised performance these models fail to capture just those aspects of this kind of work which make it an interesting object of research. The traditional approach assumes the priority of the written text, and is unable to deal with important questions regarding the nature of the collaborative devising process, such as the nature of authorship, the operation of random process, and the role of intuition and improvisation. Most significantly it fails to account for the dynamic relationship between order and disorder in theatre making, and excludes the latter from the scope of its study.

I propose a model located in the paradigm of chaos/complexity, one that accounts for both collaborative and traditional theatre making, and test my theory by analysing two devised productions that I directed and documented. My documentation is included as an appendix to this thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Moody, David, Dunstone, Bill, George, David and Williams, David
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