Year

2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Creative Arts

Department

School of the Arts, English and Media

Abstract

Central to both the practical and written components of this project is a consideration of the theatrical frame. It functions as both a literal and metaphorical device in the submitted production of Like a Fishbone by Anthony Weigh (2010). The creative component supports the contention developed in the exegesis that text-based Realism in contemporary theatre and performance is being reinvigorated through framing devices that focus and differentiate potential meanings within written texts and interrogate convention-based approaches to stage design. Throughout the exegesis, framing devices are characterised as strategies for problem solving, as well as providing a place and a space for a plurality of texts or voices, and for the locating of specific discourses.

The exegesis is itself framed by the tension between the director’s role as an interpreter of a writer’s intentions and the wider responsibility for all of the theatrical parameters - sound, space, time, and the performer’s body. Throughout, I describe how these latter aesthetic principles have shaped my work practices through the animation of framing.

The exegesis begins with an account of the submitted creative work, the production of Like a Fishbone. It links the experimentation with framing devices in this production to the needs of a particular text, but the directorial approach is contextualised by parallel instances of framing prevalent in the work of contemporary Australian directors, many of whom have been influenced by post-1990 German theatre.

After this initial contextualisation of the creative research, the exegesis expands the discussion of theatrical framing devices into four major chapters: The Frame as Mirror, a consideration of the metaphor of theatre as mirror; Bordering Frames, explores the divisions that define the relationship between audience and performer; Framing Meaning looks at the curation of ideas and texts, and Frames within Frames examines the doubled frame and meta-theatricality.

Each of the chapters adds a background context to the framing decisions in the creative research project Like a Fishbone. To provide depth, they refer to prior productions: accounting for the development and genealogy of the application of the frame in my work; and to similar devices employed by other contemporary practitioners. Key formative productions are presented as case studies to illustrate each chapter.

The conclusion draws together the four frames outlined in the chapters and shows how they are interconnected within the creative work. Finally, I will address some recent pedagogical work which has continued to be influenced by this practice-based research project and uses framing devices to intervene in the rapidly changing discussion around theatre and scenography. This work aims at creating a theatre that is responsive to the social and cultural evolutions of today.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.