Krawczyk, Ilona (2021) EMBODYING VOICE IN TRAINING AND PERFORMANCE: A PROCESS-ORIENTED APPROACH. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis describes a practice-as-research (PaR) study on the psychophysical process of embodying voice in performance, understood as any vocal act, including speech, singing, vocalization and the like, where voice is a means of expression. The research developed a process-oriented approach to voicework to address some of the issues a performer may encounter during the process of embodying voice on stage, mainly related to unintentional expressions, so-called mistakes, and disruption of flow. As such, this study examines how the process-oriented psychology (processwork) of Arnold and Amy Mindell, sound art and new music can contribute to post-Grotowskian and psychophysical training and performance.

The research methodology draws upon practice-as-research with reference to cognitive turn in performing arts. I structured the study on the basis of a feedback loop, where practical exploration both feeds into and is fed by theoretical and qualitative research. To articulate the performers’ experience of embodying voice in words, in this thesis I use phenomenological descriptions, complement them with phenomenotechnical explanations of the applied techniques, and autoethnographic analysis of the Grotowski lineage of theatre.

Through the inquiry, I critically analysed and revised training and performance objectives and the organizational and conceptual structures under which voicework is conducted in the Polish lineage of post-Grotowskian theatre. I challenged the concept of “opening an actor”; the practice of favouring highly altered, “free from resistance” states on stage; and training performers' voices according to the premise of right or wrong sounds while sourcing from performer’s everyday life experience. The study revealed limitations and potentially long-lasting repercussions of such practices on a performer’s well-being.

In this thesis, I present an original notion of dreamvoice that escapes the duality of validation between right/wrong. I argue for new ethics and aesthetics of voicework and acting in the realm of theatre informed by post-Grotowskian practice. I aim to provide a performer with tools empowering them to navigate their psychophysical process of embodying voice on stage in a more sustainable and self-directive way based on the mechanisms of what I define as a perception-expression loop of voice. As such, the thesis presents an approach to training focused on metaskills and an original form of a performance-sound installation where the performers can maintain a lucid relationship with the vocal material, creatively utilise unintentional expressions in the performance dramaturgy and apply performance states that range from casual to heightened.

KRAWCZYK - THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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