Making Sense of a Complex Artistry: A Narrative Inquiry of TIE Actor's Practice in Two Issue-based, Interactive Theatre-in-Education Works
Embargoed until: 2019-04-12
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Despite growing research focusing on the application of Theatre-in-Education (TIE) in various educational and community settings, limited exploration has been completed on the practice of actors who engage in TIE works. In particular, insufficient attention has been paid to the complex demands this form places on TIE actors and as such, the artistry required of them. This thesis addresses these gaps by exploring the experiences of nine TIE actors engaged in two issue-based, interactive TIE works presented in Hong Kong. The research was conducted to investigate how these actors understood, described and explained their practices and to determine how past influences impacted on these. Using a narrative inquiry research approach incorporating components of autoethnography, the study made use of collaborative conversations and continuous storying to privilege the participants’ voices and enable them to articulate their practices. The participants’ narratives were then analysed along with TIE literature and contemporary theories about acting to understand the nine actors’ practices both broadly and more specifically in terms of their understanding of acting. The study was situated within the context of the Oxfam Interactive Education Centre, where the two TIE works were presented. Designed to promote young people’s engagement with poverty issues, the TIE works required its actors to adopt a range of acting styles in performance, facilitate learning in and out of role, as well as construct experiences for the learners by managing content, form and purpose. The nine TIE actors in this study came from a range of backgrounds, including drama practitioners, NGO workers, school teachers and social workers. Their diverse backgrounds gave rise to a mixture of responses to the practice of TIE. The first set of findings was generated through a narrative analysis approach. It was presented as nine individual biographical narratives, and identified a range of educational, artistic, occupational, personal and socio-political influences, variously providing resources or inducing constraints on the actors. Through this analysis, it was revealed that the real life experiences of the actors were inextricably linked with their experiences within the fiction of the plays they performed, the setting of the works and the medium of TIE. Thematic narrative analysis was then applied to the data relating to the participants’ practices to formulate the second set of findings, presented as a collective narrative. This narrative expounded the complexity of the actors’ practice in issue-based, interactive TIE works, as they managed the social issues, the pedagogics, the artistic form, as well as the diverse needs of students, working partners and themselves. A range of acting approaches were adopted in their practices, with the participants constantly managing the relationship between fiction and reality, and different dimensions of their experiences. Notions about acting in contemporary theories were keenly applied to their practices. Together, these two sets of findings suggest that issue-based, interactive TIE requires complex artistry, making sophisticated demands on its actors artistically, pedagogically and ethically. The participants’ narratives indicate that such demands are intensified when there are strong social justice agendas in their work, and when there is a juxtaposition of fiction and reality created when actors are required to portray real people in poverty. The findings also extend upon notions of acting explained in acting theories. They suggest that acting in TIE involves a complex artistry requiring the management of multiple forms of existence arising from different dimensions of the actors’ experiences – including those of actor and teacher, of self and character, and of the real world and the fictional representation of this world. The thesis proposes that in the discourses about TIE, the notion of TIE practice as the art of managing multiple existences may serve as a useful theoretical concept, while this concept may also help to inform theoretical discussions about the broader field of acting, enhance professional practices in the field of TIE, and provide a useful concept for future research. The thesis also proposes a range of systems that may support actors to handle issue-based, interactive TIE, related to the need to expand the design of drama training programmes, structure rehearsals systematically, and incorporate ongoing and systematic reflections within the TIE teams.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School Educ & Professional St
The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.
TIE actors' practice
Interactive theatre-in-education works