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BECOMING-GRUESOME: An Interdisciplinary Study of Transformation Within the Theatre Rehearsal Process

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An Interdisciplinary Study of Transformation Within the Theatre Rehearsal Process

by Ryan Schwalm

Theatre as an art form uniquely allows for its practitioners and audiences to experience the process of transformation, of turning existing things into new things. We are concerned here with clarifying what it means to transform, and how we can catalyze the transformation process for theatre practitioners and theatre goers. We use Deleuzian philosophy on rhizomes and becoming, teachings of the buddha on meditation and mindfulness, and Artaud’s theatre of cruelty as well as many other theatre writer’s works as a theoretical framework to understand transformation as it applies to theatre. We attempt to apply these structures to the process of theatre-making from a director’s standpoint. We incorporate mindfulness practices and various somatic techniques within rehearsals, and attempt to conceptualize performance using Deleuzian and Buddhist thought.

If we are to define transformation as the shifting of one thing into another thing, and the measure of success as the speed or efficiency with which that thing transforms, we have noted several practices as consistently productive toward the goal of successful transformation. These practices are mindful awareness practices such as meditation, or awareness based physical theatre practices, particularly those meditations focused on direct perception, intention setting rituals such as check-ins or communal statement of goals, and ritualization of effective practices by repetition with intended outcome. In other words, you must become aware of what is in order to achieve clarity on where you intend to go and regularly repeat actions meant to get you there with that intention in mind.

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