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Iconicity : the presence of imagery in the principles and practice of dramatic performance

By Bruce G Shapiro


This thesis is devoted to an explanation of iconicity, a process for acting and staging dramatic performances. The premise of the thesis is that dramatic performance is generated out of the same innate neural architecture human beings use in their daily lives to execute events. At the core of this neural architecture is the human brain's capacity for internally generating, reduplicating, storing and triggering imagery. The process of iconicity uses this mental capacity to rehearse and perform dramas. The process of iconicity is based upon the actor's innate cycle of\ud performance, which the thesis explains. This process is also neopragmatic and hermeneutic, using rehearsal to cultivate strands of iconicity persisting and, therefore, conversing in the drama. In dramatic performance, contrived imagery is triggered in the actor, informing a performance consciousness that activates the actor's contrived cycle of\ud dramatic performance. The research was carried out in rehearsals for around twenty-five productions over a period of sixteen years, during which time the iconicity process was developed in practice. Therefore, this thesis is the record of a journey through artistic practice toward the iconicity process. In order to understand the discoveries made during rehearsals, a variety of critical theories came into play and these are discussed in this thesis. But the context for all theoretical discourse is the artistic practice of dramatic performance. With respect to the presentation of the thesis itself, my aim is to emulate the iconicity process by a linear discourse which, once read,\ud may be reread in its entirety or according to an individually ordered selection of the sub-headed sections.\ud The linear discourse itself is divided into two parts preceded by the Introduction. This introduction briefly establishes some foundational perspectives that are meant to orient the reader to the content of the thesis. Part One is devoted to the principles of iconicity. It begins with a Prologue presenting the theory of innate performance, from which I believe dramatic performance derives. Chapter One is devoted to ideology; Chapter Two answers the question, What is Acting?; and Chapter Three introduces the affect theory of the emotions. Although at times the initial presentation of perspectives and principles refers to practice, essentially, the Introduction and Part One\ud comprise a mosaic of ideas that make up a lateral foundation for the more linear practice of iconicity, which is presented in Part Two. Part Two is much more practically oriented than Part One. However, in order to fully understand this latter part of the thesis, the foundation of ideas set out in Part One must be kept in mind.\ud The four chapters of Part Two present the strands of iconicity. Chapters Four and Five deal with the strand of events and the rules of dramatic structure, respectively. Chapter Six details what I refer to as the intermediate strands of dialogue and interactions. Chapter Seven\ud discusses the strand of performance. An Epilogue addresses a few remaining issues about acting and iconicity

Topics: Semiotics, Drama Technique, Theater Production and direction, Acting Technique, Performing arts Semiotics, iconicity, imagery, performance, drama, acting, directing, thesis, doctoral
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 1997
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