AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Investigating a personalised site-specific approach to performance : selected origins, possible influences and practical implications

by Gabriella Simone Bishop

Institution: Stellenbosch University
Department: Drama
Degree: MA
Year: 2014
Keywords: Drama; Dissertations  – Drama
Record ID: 1451886
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86531


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Central to a site-specific approach to performance is the concern for the potential of unconventional spaces. Appearing in multiple mediums, there seems to be little clarity on the parameters of this approach and it appears to have become a flexible term under which a plethora of manifestations have begun to collect. The aim of this thesis is to investigate a personalised site-specific approach to performance in order to provide insight into the role of the director in this approach, as well as to identify possible characteristics that might differentiate a site-specific approach to performance from other outdoor performance genres. Selected visual arts movements of the 1960s and 1970s which contributed towards the gradual development of a site-specific approach are Dadaism, abstract expressionism, minimalism, performance art, happenings, and land art. Artists involved in these movements challenged the traditional idealisation of aesthetic art works by placing importance on the physical experience and creation of art works. Eventually involved artists abandoned the galleries all together, exploring the potential of unconventional spaces through installations and performances. Theatre practitioners such as Artaud, Grotowski, Schechner, Malina and Beck contributed, amongst other things, on the breaking down of the theatre space, removing the stage and seating in order for the performance to engulf the audience in the action. Site-based performance was influenced by the above mentioned practitioners. Possible categories collected under this umbrella term are site-sympathetic, site-adjusted, site-specific and site-generic. Practitioners currently exploring these individual approaches in the Western Cape are amongst others Samantha Prigge- Pienaar, Louise Coetzer and Nicola Hanekom. A practical investigation of a personalised site-specific approach to performance, led to the following conclusions. Firstly, a site-specific approach to creating a performance requires the director to step into the role of facilitator, making decisions in response to the site rather than controlling the site. Secondly, the term site-specific is not fixed, as it expands and develops with the unique needs of every site. Thirdly, it is restrictive to say that elements like music and/or props cannot be brought into the site; however this depends on the nature of the site. Fourthly, while a complete set of characteristics cannot be made absolute for a sitespecific approach to performance two key features of this approach are the centrality of the site and the interactive relationships. Lastly, a site-specific approach to performance asks for a paradigm shift, whereby everything that is considered part of the traditional theatre should be reviewed. AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die potensiaal van onkonvensionele ruimtes is sentraal tot ’n plek-spesifieke benadering tot performance. Daar blyk egter nie duidelikheid te wees oor die begrensing van hierdie benadering nie en dit lyk asof dit ’n buigsame term is…