Ego, Open Space, and the Creative Liberation of the Actor
This study means to identify and acknowledge the connection between the director’s ego and the potential for emotional danger and harm in the rehearsal space and critique the heightened consideration the ego of a director can acquire in the rehearsal space by means of engaging in the typical director/actor power dynamic. This, alongside an industry-wide emphasis on the end goal of a rehearsal process to be the expedient creation of a cohesive finished product, and a lack of emphasis on and care for the mental wellbeing of actors producing vulnerability and, in some cases, reenacting traumatic events, are major flaws in the current standard rehearsal process. In this thesis, I argue that these aspects of the standard rehearsal process contribute most heavily to the potential for emotional malpractice in the rehearsal space. In order to explore ways in which I as a director could work against the normative privileging of a director’s ego and vision, I devised a two act fully improvised performance piece with six actors over Zoom in January and February of 2020. In an effort to increase collaboration I implemented Open Space into my rehearsal, a devising structure developed by London theatre company, Improbable, that breaks down many aspects of the typical rehearsal space. I discovered that in dismantling the normative power and chronological structure of rehearsal, I made room for the recentering of the space on that of the creative liberation of the actor and was able to create a space in which the actors felt comfortable to communicate clearly and directly about their own consent and boundaries.