Embodying Voice in Training and Performance: A Process-Oriented Approach, 2016-2019


This PhD thesis describes a practice-as-research (PaR) study on the psychophysical process of embodying voice in performance, understood as any vocal act, including speech, singing, vocalization and the like, where voice is a means of expression. The research developed a process-oriented approach to voicework to address some of the issues a performer may encounter during the process of embodying voice on stage, mainly related to unintentional expressions, so-called mistakes, and disruption of flow. As such, this study examines how the process-oriented psychology (processwork) of Arnold and Amy Mindell, sound art and new music can contribute to post-Grotowskian and psychophysical training and performance. The research methodology draws upon practice-as-research with reference to cognitive turn in performing arts. I structured the study on the basis of a feedback loop, where practical exploration both feeds into and is fed by theoretical and qualitative research. To articulate the performers’ experience of embodying voice in words, in this thesis I use phenomenological descriptions, complement them with phenomenotechnical explanations of the applied techniques, and ethnographic analysis of the Grotowski lineage of theatre. Through the inquiry, I critically analysed and revised training and performance objectives and the organizational and conceptual structures under which voicework is conducted within the post-Grotowskian lineage of theatre. I challenged the concept of “opening an actor”; the practice of favouring highly altered, “free from resistance” states on stage; and training performers' voices according to the premise of right or wrong sounds while sourcing from performer’s everyday life experience. The study revealed limitations and potentially long-lasting repercussions of such practices on a performer’s well-being. In this thesis, I present an originally formulated notion of dreamvoice that escapes a duality of validation between right/wrong. I argue for new ethics and aesthetics of voicework and acting in the realm of theatre informed by post-Grotowskian practice. I aim to provide a performer with tools empowering them to navigate their psychophysical process of embodying voice on stage in a more sustainable and self-directive way based on the mechanisms of what I define as a perception-expression loop of voice. As such, the thesis presents an approach to training focused on metaskills, and an original form of a performance-sound installation where the performers can maintain a lucid relationship with the vocal material, creatively utilise unintentional expressions in the performance dramaturgy and apply performance states that range from casual to heightened.

My research methodology draws upon multi-mode practice-as-research as described by Robin Nelson (2013) with reference to the “cognitive turn” as proposed by Shaun May (2015). I have also drawn on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s (2013) phenomenology of perception to concentrate on performers’ experience. In turn, Merleau-Ponty’s concept of reversibility supported designing the study based on a feedback loop, where practical exploration both fed into and was fed by theoretical and qualitative research. To specify what is new in developing a process-oriented approach to voicework, I applied phenomenotechnique (Rheinberger, 2010) as proposed by Ben Spatz (2017), allowing me to complement phenomenological descriptions with an explanation of techniques used in the embodied practice of this inquiry. In addition, I present the performer-researcher’s autoethnographic perspective (Ettore, 2016) on these techniques.

DOI https://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-855330
Metadata Access https://datacatalogue.cessda.eu/oai-pmh/v0/oai?verb=GetRecord&metadataPrefix=oai_ddi25&identifier=86b2440e3fc2b05319b68473aa336b3907bfaa9d56d3ed02b15595e62cfe6c80
Creator Krawczyk, I, University of Huddersfield
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2021
Funding Reference North of England Consortium for Arts and Humanities (NECAH)
Rights Ilona Maria Krawczyk, University of Huddersfield; The Data Collection is available to any user without the requirement for registration for download/access.
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Text; Still image; Video
Discipline Psychology; Social and Behavioural Sciences
Spatial Coverage United Kingdom; Poland; Belgium