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The sourcing of Somatic Theatre Praxis: Breathing with a goat, contemplating 2000 turkeys and an unexpected interview

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In this article the notion of ‘Somatic Theatre Praxis’ (suggested by theatre director and scholar Teresa Izzard) is used as an umbrella term to describe recent tendencies in the contemporary performing arts to employ somatic practices at all stages of work – training, rehearsal, dramaturgy and performance. The main topic under scrutiny – the sourcing of Somatic Theatre Praxis – particularizes the process of designing a novel somatic experience for the actor, which materializes dramaturgical questions and vision as much as it shapes the somatic practices subsequently introduced and employed during all phases of the creative process. As a case study on sourcing Somatic Theatre Praxis, this article presents my artistic collaboration with Portuguese theatre director João Brites on the production of The Divine Comedy – Inferno (2017). In the context of the fields of performance theory and embodied cognition I discuss examples of documented studio work to show how somatic practices informed specific acting and composition techniques used by Brites in the framework of his ‘Consciousness of the Actor on the Scene’ (CAC) system. The article concludes by drawing on contrasting conceptions of new dramaturgies in the performing arts to arrive at a tentative theoretical contextualization of the work created by João Brites and his theatre company Teatro O Bando.
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Keywords: Somatic Theatre Praxis; actor training; contemporary dance; contemporary theatre; embodied cognition; somatic dramaturgy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: NOVA University Lisbon (UNL-FCSH)

Publication date: December 1, 2018

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  • This journal focuses on the relationship between dance and somatic practices, and the influence of this body of practice on the wider performing arts. The journal will be aimed at scholars and artists, providing a space for practitioners and theorists to debate the work, to consider the impact and influence of the work on performance, the interventions that somatic practices can have on other disciplines and the implications for research and teaching.
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