Type of Document Dissertation Author Russell, Susan Bryce Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-04022008-074044 Title The Revolution Continues: A New Actor in An Old Place Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Theatre, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Carrie Sandahl Committee Chair Kay Picart Committee Member Mary Karen Dahl Committee Member Keywords
- Moscow Art Theatre
- The System
- Dominant Acting Theory
- Creative Condition
- Cultural Conversations
- Third Actor
- Method Acting
- Lee Strasberg
- The Group Theatre
Date of Defense 2007-10-23 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
I believe that acting theories are theatrical performances of societies, and a dominant acting theory is a performance of specific systems of power that control and regulate a culture. By observing the rules of a dominant acting theory, and by observing the actor’s condition, as in how the actor’s body and mind are constrained, encouraged to be creative, or forced to repeat a set of actions, it is possible to “read” the power systems that either constrain or liberate a people. Concerning the production of a play, if a director and an actor make a conscious choice to use a dominant acting theory, then the use of the theory, whether it is a historic representation of the time and place defined by the play or not, represents a conscious choice of collaboration or resistance with the specific cultural conversation of the playwright. If a collaboration takes place, then the director, actor, and audience watching represent a culture defined by resistance to systems of power. If a director and an actor use a dominant acting theory unconsciously, then the play is not defined by conscious choices of collaboration or resistance, but rather by an unconscious presentation of a specific set of rules and regulations. If the director, actor, and audience watching take part in an unconscious presentation of rules and regulations, then the actor, director, and audience watching participate in the erasure of an alternative cultural conversation, and the erasure exposes a culture that is defined by compliance to specific systems of power.
My dissertation explores Method acting, which is the dominant acting methodology in the United States, through acts of complicity and/or resistance to systems of power from 1930 to the present. Method acting began in the 1930s as a resistant methodology, and then Method acting was altered in the 1950s in order to comply with the discourses that defined a specific culture. Because contemporary Method acting is defined by complicity, a contemporary actor must be viewed through acts of unconscious erasure. Concerning the production of a play, if Method is performed consciously, then the play is consciously “placed” within the United States in the 1950s. If Method is performed unconsciously, then the alternative cultural conversation of the play is altered in order to define discourses of the 1950s, thus the alternative conversation of the play disappears. Though beginning in resistance, Method acting now controls and regulates actors through a methodology that produces and reproduces images from the past. The images present systems of power from the 1950s, and the director, actor, and audience watching an unconscious presentation of these images represent not only an acting methodology that is constrained, but also a culture and a people defined by compliance with the past.
In order to resist Method’s production and reproduction of the past, I offer an alternative methodology for the contemporary actor. The Third Actor Training Program, or TAPT, is resistant by definition because the function of this actor is to seek out and engage with diverse cultural conversations within a text, and the function of the methodology is to expose a physical and creative avenue for the theatrical enactment of diversity. TAPT also offers a new “place” of performance for this new actor, a place that is defined by freedom from systems of power and freedom from controlled and regulated time. The Revolution of the Species continues, and the Revolution is being enacted even as I write this abstract. My dissertation proposes that the state of the actor is the state of the State, and my dissertation proposes that the state of the TAPT actor presents is a possible future for a contemporary culture.
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