Performing biography: creating, embodying and shifting history [2 parts]

PhD Thesis


Meenach, Bernadette Anne. 2018. Performing biography: creating, embodying and shifting history [2 parts] . PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/5f697a3cdccd7
Title

Performing biography: creating, embodying and shifting history [2 parts]

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorMeenach, Bernadette Anne
SupervisorScollen, Rebecca
Johnson, Laurie
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages187
Year2018
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/5f697a3cdccd7
Abstract

Performing Biography: creating, embodying and shifting history is a practice-led research project that builds upon and challenges Canton’s (2011) research into biographical theatre. Canton suggests that biographical theatre cannot shift audience perception of an historical figure if it counters their previous 'life world knowledge', regardless of the modernist or postmodernist theatrical devices employed. Through three cycles of observation, reflection, planning and, action two original biographical theatre works are created, embodied and performed. They are designed to test whether biographical theatre can shift audience perception of an historical figure if three emergent biographical theatre-making principles are considered. The modernist Ms. Garland at Twilight and the postmodernist Judy Strikes Back prove that biographical theatre could shift audience perception.

In extant biographical theatre works featuring the actress Judy Garland, her life is constructed through the tragedy plotting pattern. According to White (1978), Davis (1992), Heddon (2008) and Dortins (2009) such a pattern, or dominant narrative, has the power to limit, distort or police control over the life story of an historical figure. By successfully disrupting the tragedy narrative associated with Garland, this study proposes that ‘khorobiognosis’ can occur. That is, audience perception can be shifted if the biographer and biographical performers commit to their super-objective, include other people’s thinking, and embrace liveness.

This study provides a narrative of my biographical theatre-making practice to ensure that new narratives of historical figures can be revealed and forgotten narratives can be uncovered.

Keywordsbiography, biographical theatre, performance, theatre-making, practice-led research, grounded theory, embodiment, disruption, shifting, perception, tragedy, accomplishment, narrative, self, modernism, postmodernism, liveness, Stanislavski, meta-biographical devices, fluid, ‘khorobiognosis’, Judy Garland
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020360403. Drama, theatre and performance studies
430303. Biography
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Arts and Communication
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https://research.usq.edu.au/item/q5420/performing-biography-creating-embodying-and-shifting-history-2-parts

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