Task, Attention, Movement: An Exploration of Psychophysical Training Methods for Ensemble Performance
This is the written thesis which accompanies the practical element of my research which was presented in June 2015. Taken together, the two modes are designed to share my processes and findings.\ud I have been conducting research into psychophysical training methodologies for ensemble performance, interrogating the methods of the practitioners Annie Loui, John Britton, Jerzy Grotowski, Lorna Marshall, Yoshi Oida, and Frantic Assembly. I wanted to discover which tasks were the most effective in cultivating a specific set of skills in an ensemble and why? these skills were: dissolving "blocks" and responding to impulses; awareness of our own bodies; focus; stage presence; playfulness and group awareness. The research also explores how one could create a transferrable training - one that the participants could take advantage of and reapply to other performance/theatre training contexts.\ud Using a group of 6 undergraduate students (who at the time were in their second year of their drama degree), I used a task-based approach to the work, conducting exercises with the group which came from both firsthand experience with John Britton, and from books by the practitioners mentioned above. The training was intended to practically critique these exercises by trying them out in the studio. The use of a video camera to record workshops meant that I could watch the work back after the sessions. The studio work and the camera combined, gave me an interesting perspective on the research, because as the leader of the group and also a part of the ensemble, I was both inside the research and an outside eye. When the process was over, the participants completed exit questionnaires, and were interviewed in order for me to gain a more comprehensive view of their experience of the process.\ud Each of the participants improved to different degrees in each of the areas in which they were trained and I was successful in creating a transferrable training, as each of the participants affirmed that they would use the practices in their future performances and theatrical careers. I also found that for some of them, the training had impacted on their everyday lives, some commenting that as a direct result of the process, they had become more mature around other people and/or less self conscious and anxious.
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