Recovering the 'Radical in Performance' Conscientiza'o as a Model for Theatre-Making Amongst Event-Specific Popular Audiences: CYCLE Productions' Bathurst 1000 Festival Project

Gerard Boland

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

During the latter decades of the twentieth century there was a steady rise in the number of event-specific festivals that were designed to broaden the participation of Australian audiences in new forms of community-based entertainment. This investigation explains how the processual phases of Paulo Freire''s conscientizao process were applied as guiding principles within the context of an event-specific theatre-making project that involved multiple cohorts of undergraduate participants over an eight-year period. The thesis is grounded in the empirical experience of their cultural praxis as theatre-makers who collaborated to devise and present street theatre, parades, and cabarets for performance amongst V8 motor sport enthusiasts. Recent literature concerning critical performance autoethnography is reviewed. Ethnohistoric primary source documentation is used to develop a multi-case study that examines how certain categories of embedded theory - conscientização, the carnivalesque aesthetic, popular theatre theory, and permaculture design principles '' contributed to the evolvement of a new approach for guiding the work of devising original entertainments for event-specific popular audiences. This investigation demonstrates how Baz Kershaw''s theoretical/conceptual categories concerning ''the dialectical processes of community-based performance'' and ''the radical in performance'' can be used as analytic tools for critically evaluating instances of ''performance beyond theatre''. This line of inquiry results in the articulation of new propositions for the processual conduct of devising event-specific entertainments. Five conclusions concerning practice as research into performance are drawn from this study. (1) When grounded in ethnohistoric primary source documentation, critical performance autoethnography offers theatre practitioners a new epistemic stance for using their own theatre practice as the basis for conducting theoretical/conceptual research into live performance. (2) The conscientização process, as characterised by Paulo Freire, provides a pertinent guide for the conduct of dramaturgical research that is designed to generate original entertainments for event-specific popular audiences. (3) When applied as informing principles for production processes that are designed for these purposes, the conscientização process displays conceptual symmetries with the characteristic phases of theatre production. (4) Kershaw''s propositions concerning ''the dialectical processes of community-based performance'' and ''the radical in performance'' represent cogent new principles that can be used for guiding pre-production dramaturgical research as well as providing analytic categories for interrogating performative outcomes. (5) When attention is paid to Kershaw''s ''points of process'' concerning the ''radical in performance'', those processes will promote the conscientização of theatre-makers as they labour to devise original entertainments for performance amongst event specific popular audiences.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of New England
Award date01 Mar 2009
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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