Title

Creatively Pursuing Persona: Finding identity through directing

Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr Lyndall Adams

Second Advisor

Dr Marcella Polain

Third Advisor

Associate Professor Andrew Lewis

Fourth Advisor

Associate Professor Maggi Phillips

Abstract

This practice-led PhD research is an in-depth exploration into the field of theatre directing. The thesis is presented in three components: an exegesis and a two-part original creative work. Conducted over three phases, the study investigated how a culturally displaced individual (a product of the Armenian diaspora) may find a sense of identity through theatre directing and address the internal struggles of belonging, acceptance and self that are often experienced by those who have confronted cultural unhoming.

Embarking on a career in theatre directing, while exciting, can often be a daunting and experimental vocation. Renowned Australian director Gale Edwards (as cited in P. Ward, 1988) suggested that being a director can often be a very difficult job. It is lonely, isolating, you are attacked by critics, and you are responsible if anything goes wrong and forgotten when everything goes right. In contradiction to Edward’s thoughts, evidence shows that within the past decade there has been a growing interest in the vocation of theatre directing. I asked, in a competitive artistic profession that is rapidly developing, what attracts an individual to the authoritative role of the director and what are the underlying motivations of this attraction?

The first two stages of the study probed into my incentives as a Persian-Armenian-Australian actor turned director, and then queried the provocations of other theatre directors in a similar predicament. Initial interviews with the directors provided detailed accounts of how they embarked on the profession of theatre directing and insight into their motivations for doing so. The second phase of interviews investigated the director’s role more deeply, focusing primarily and acutely on the activity of directing. The purpose of this phase was to uncover whether, consciously or unconsciously, the activity of directing is a reflection of the individual’s sense of self. The final stage of the study is a creative project that is presented in two parts: a children’s book and an immersive Theatre in Education performance, titled The Special Team Elite. Utilising my creativity as a director and storyteller, these components explored my personal familiarities with cultural prejudice.

The significance of this research lies in its innovative approach to the field of theatre directing that addresses cultural effects relating to individuals who have struggled with ethnic identity and displacement. By uncovering that there is more to the role of the director than the mere finality of a production, we can observe that the theatre is a promising setting for cultural exchanges in dialogue and for personal development. Theatre directing as the vehicle for these expansions and progressions of self can potentially address the internal struggles of identity often experienced by those who, in some form, have encountered cultural displacement.

Comments

Online access available but embargoed until December 2019 by author's request

Access to this thesis is restricted. Please see the Access Note below for access details.

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