The Jekyll’s Hide Project. Devising Jekyll’s Hide: A critical analysis of the performative elements and working methods of Jerry Lewis and the butoh dancers Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
Dr Renee Newman
Dr Jonathan W. Marshall
Dr Frances Barbe
This practice-led research project explored the process of devising for performance for the stage via physical theatre workshops. The research was informed by Japanese butoh dance-theatre and its two creators, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, and by the work of American comic Jerry Lewis. I began with exercises in group workshops derived from butoh movement practice, followed by inspiration drawn from Jerry Lewis’s performance and directorial work in his films, and from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I developed a workshop exercise and devising process where ideas and methodologies from butoh and Jerry Lewis were used to produce a butoh-Lewis approach to performance making.
In seeking to fuse the elements of movement-voice-film-literature, a series of exercises emerged to form a methodology for devising for performance. Over the course of the research I conducted workshops, a devising period, presented an early-stage showing (of the new work: Jekyll’s Hide: Mind world) and a later-stage, expanded performance for Perth’s Fringe World Festival. The results of the workshop series and devising process illuminated a need in this research project for rigorous physical experimentation based on butoh exercises and close viewing of the work of Jerry Lewis. The practice-led research exemplifies the notion of a studio-based enquiry; in this instance, it is the process involved in developing methods for performance making that reveal the greatest results and not the performance outcome.
The research adds to current knowledge in performance making by bringing together the unlikely, yet surprisingly synergetic elements of butoh and Lewis. This thesis demonstrates that studies into particular performing artists, when placed side by side, are useful in developing a particular performance-making process. The transferability of this research comes in understanding that combining seemingly disparate performance qualities (and their artists) is an invigorating addition to the devising process, which I offer as the Sleeping-Walking-Talking performance-making model. The research revealed an intriguing fusion of form including a particular type of grotesque clown.
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Belviso, H. (2020). The Jekyll’s Hide Project. Devising Jekyll’s Hide: A critical analysis of the performative elements and working methods of Jerry Lewis and the butoh dancers Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/2285