Title

Minimising the risks of 21st Century violence: The balance of ethics and creativity in staging Simon Stephens’ Motortown

Author Identifiers

Michael Abercromby
ORCID: 0000-0003-3677-7754

Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Arts (Performing Arts)

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Dr Jonathan W. Marshall

Second Advisor

Dr Frances Barbe

Third Advisor

Andrew Lewis

Abstract

This research project investigates the ways in which violence in 21st Century texts is rehearsed and performed. Inspired in part by the progressive work in intimacy designed to safeguard the performer, this project investigates potential strategies to minimise the risks performers face when staging violence. As well as minimising the risk of post-dramatic stress caused by performing psychologically demanding roles, this project also addresses actor agency and uneven power dynamics between director and actor which may exacerbate this risk. Being a creative practice, the focus is on the balancing of the ethical considerations one should have when working with violence and the creative outcomes a director needs to pursue in order to present the violent material in the way that best supports the vision for the work. These two areas need to be explored in parallel to gauge the relevance of the techniques explored in relationship to each other. Valuable findings would need to satisfy the modern expectations for both creative and ethical considerations, as well as proving useful in a staging process. To explore this in practice, the project took a practice-led research methodology. The final product of this project took the form of a staging of Simon Stephens’s 2006 play Motortown. The staging was the culmination of a rehearsal period with a cast of actors, simulating the requirements of professional practice, but also allowing the necessary room required for experimentation and exploration in a research project without the associated pressures of economic or critical merit. This process allowed an exploration of strategies and techniques gleaned from a variety of performance practices. The techniques and strategies implemented in the practical element of this project were examined and discussed to comment on their value in rehearsing and performing violence in a 21st Century text. Ultimately, a refocusing of established practice using existing methods was employed to minimise these risks and recommendations for development of these strategies is discussed.

Access Note

Access to this thesis is restricted to the exegesis and to current ECU staff and students. Email request to library@ecu.edu.au

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

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