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Going with the Flow: Identifying a Single Commonality in Written and Performed Acting Theory

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Author: Schellman, Katharine A.
Advisor: Palmer, Richard H.
Committee Members: Wiley, Elizabeth; Weiss, Brad
Issued Date: 2009-05-14
Subjects: Csikszentmihalyi
Performance theory
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/1211
Description: This study was designed to determine whether a single performance commonality could be determined to exist across styles of performance theory, and focused on investigating the experiential moment of performance. Identifying this commonality did not intend to codify the process or purpose of performance but to demonstrate the underlying human aspect of performance, irrespective of context or action, and give performers a starting point from which to approach a tradition radically different than the ones with which they are familiar. In his work, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi describes the idea of "flow,"� a merging of attention, awareness, and action which creates a holistic sensation that connects the body to its environment. This form of experience, it was predicted, would appear as an underlying commonality, regardless of the performance theory identifies. Information was gathered in two forms: first, theoretically, through the study of representative performance theories of differing styles; second, practically, through information gathered from professional performers. The elements of flow were found in both the styles used to represent the categories of performance theory and in evidence gathered from performers. Despite this, however, this particular study remains essentially inconclusive. Limited participation and structural flaws in the study limit the conclusiveness if the data. From the information gathered, a definite trend towards the common presence of flow can be identified, but further research remains necessary to conclusively state that it is the overarching commonality of performance theory. The strength of the results, however, indicates that a similar study with broader scope would produce its successful identification.
Degree: Bachelors of Arts in Theatre, Speech and Dance

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