Larping audiences into theatre: Reflective affective structures of participatory performance
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This thesis asks what strategies and structures of larp-led participatory performance encourage participants to reflect on their affective embeddedness within evolving differential structures of becoming as represented within the performance space. It argues that the embodied responses of participants in such performances constitute an encounter with self that dives into the pre-conscious impact of affect, producing a kind of self-presence that reflects on the dynamic and porous nature of that self within systems of relation. It develops a “reflective affective” model of performance-making and analysis in order to foreground the embodied knowledge(s) generated by such co-creative practices. The first two chapters outline the research processes leading to the reflective affective model and provide a theoretical underpinning for the performance development discussed in the following case studies. The performance projects developed as part of this thesis are intended to provide transformative experiences that ripple beyond the boundaries of the performance space and to encourage awareness of those ripples in its participants as they develop a generosity towards difference. Three chapters each explore case studies of participatory performances developed as part of this thesis that demonstrate the process of performance creation and of analysis that is intrinsic to the iterative methodologies. The Prison and New Voices in Art, outlined and analysed here, represent two theoretical and methodological “explosions” in the development of the reflective affective model. The third, Two Truths, deeply explores the process of performance-creation within the contexts of gaming and theatre audiences by building a production from devised workshops to performances at gaming conventions to performances in a regional theatre festival. In doing so, this thesis develops transdisciplinary models of performance development and analysis, incorporating performance-as-research and larp design methodologies within a performance studies framework. It argues that in the context of increasingly agentive performance production such frameworks are necessary in order to utilise fully the empowering potential of such performances. In its reflective affective model this thesis seeks to offer both scholars and practitioners a radically alternative approach to participation design that provides a means to conceptualise and intervene in a deeply embodied form of knowing rooted in pre-conscious, shared affective experience.
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