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It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it

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This article explores how thinking and doing ethnographically can and should be an integral part of a Performance Studies practice. It moves beyond Schechner's position that Performance Studies can be aided by methodological tools such as ‘participant observation’ to a detailed exploration of the potential relationship between performance and ethnography, concluding that Performance Studies practitioners are, by the very action of their practical engagement with their discipline, attempting their own working ‘in the field’. Through an exploration of her own practice, which is by definition both ethnography and performance, there emerges a framework for looking beyond previous experiments between ethnography and Performance Studies to locate key aspects from both disciplines that can radically inform the way practice in Performance Studies evolves. The article locates imagination or creativity as this crucial interface where we can move beyond a commonly held assumption that studying is done in the mind and practice in the body; it is not so much what we are doing in our practice of Performance Studies as how we are doing what we are doing that signals its unique potential.

Keywords: body/mind; creativity; ethnography; felt sense; imagination; methodology; participant observation; performance

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/stap.25.3.215/1

Affiliations: University of Northampton.

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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  • Studies in Theatre and Performance is a peer-reviewed journal which fosters a progressive forum to explore the nuances of theatre practice. The journal provides a critical scope to include other related disciplines in its scrutiny of the stage, exploring the interplay between performance, audience and dramatic practice.
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