Playing around with improvisation: an analysis of the text creation processes used within preadolescent dramatic play
When children come together to play dramatically they are involved in the creation of an improvised text. This text emerges spontaneously via the moment-by-moment contributions of individual players who must operate in a highly collaborative way in order to achieve cohesion. This paper reports on a research project involving several groups of 11-and 12-year old girls that was conducted in order to gain a greater understanding of how cohesion in dramatic play is achieved. Using transcripts from one of the play sessions, the paper identifies the five key phases through which the play passed including the preparation, enactment, innovation, breakdown and conclusion phases. Each of these phases is described, with their contribution to the text creation process being identified. The paper then moves on to examine the role of the playwright function, with O'Neill's (1995) notion being extended into a four part analysis framework. Here textual contributions offered spontaneously by the players are classified according to the impact they have on the overall text, with narrative, intervening, reinforcing and reviewing playwright functions being suggested. The paper concludes with the suggestion that further research may determine how useful these two frameworks might be to achieving an enhanced understanding of text creation within other improvised drama forms.
Research in Drama Education