U9 – Task 1 – Practitioner Research

Today in my Acting Lesson we looked at our Assignment and made sure that we all knew and understood what we had to do. As I wasn’t in when these were given out, I was confused but Erica cleared up all my questions and so I am now clear about what I have to do for Task 1 and 2 of my first assignment out of 3.

We looked at different techniques that different actors use and what discussed what we thought about each one. We also looked at practitioners on a performance spectrum to give us a helping hand on to where we should start for our task 1.

Here were the people we discussed about:

  • STANISLAVSKI – Naturalism
  • MEISNER – Being truthful, some repetition
  • HAGEN – Naturalism, 4th wall. A situation affecting how you act. For example, the making tea game. Where you are given a location and emotion and you have to ‘make tea’ whilst feeling these emotions.
  • (STEVEN) BERKOFF – His pieces are not pretty at all. Made a play rhythmical metamorphosis
  • PINTER – Developed techniques that are still used today. Created pauses. This was made by accident, he wanted to have a ‘beat’ but instead it was seen as a pause so therefore he has more pauses than words.
  • CHEKHOV – Psychological gesture
  • GROTOWSKI – ‘Poor’ Theatre. Polish writer. Made his actors/actresses run around the stage for 20 minutes before performing because he saw that making them tired would pull the emotion to the surface and so it was seen that the emotion would be raw and would come to the surface. He came up with hot seating people to see in depth the characters.
  • BOAL – Oppressed, wanted to educate people through theatre
  • BRECHT – Was a communist and he believed in using theatre for evolution, teaching the audience something every time they watch one of his pieces. Keeping the audience engaged by showing them that it’s only a show. He even made the stage so that you can see backstage so the audience would never be confused about this being a play and not to get lost in it. For example, social prejudice. He would show people experiencing social prejudice and then through how he feels about it he would show the audience how they were supposed to feel about the topic.
  • ADLER –
  • SONDHEIM – Lyrics are incredible, for example, Sweeny Todd – Used ‘old fashioned’ words that rhyme
  • RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN – Sound of music, Cinderella, South Pacific, Carousel
  • LERNER & LOWE – Camelot and My Fair Lady
  • HARNIK & BOCK – Fiddler on the roof
  • LECOQ – Levels of tension
  • PASEK & PAUL – Dogfight (musical) First performance 2012
  • STILES & DREWE – Honk – Ugly duckling, 1993. Peter Pan. – CHILDREN, simple storylines, simple words, engaging, colourful and bright.

The difference between adults and children is that the children really listen to what you are saying and could catch you out, whereas adults sort of zone out and you could tell them about a scene that wasn’t even there but they would think it was and just agree with you.

A practitioner is someone who practises a profession. For example, a doctor is a highly skilled profession where they have to present high skills and practise on a daily basis.

For one of the practitioners, I have chosen to study is ‘Augusto Boal’. Augusto is a Brazilian theatre director, writer and Politian who first elaborated in the 1960’s. Many of his ideas are considered “a new media perspective” and since then the ideas have been developed and have been given a meaning in modern day context. The Theatre of the Oppressed is focused on dialogue and interaction with the audience and the performer. His work concentrates on using theatre in a political context, as a tool for understanding, education, and development. His techniques are also used in therapeutic settings to enhance personal and group development.

What I learnt about Boal is that during the time that he was living in Brazil, the military were ruling and controlled what he did and how he lived his life. Therefore he decided that he would be apart of a group called ‘Popular Revolutionary Movement’ and those who were involved with this movement decided that they would move to another part of the country so they wouldn’t have to be controlled by the military. The movement used theatre to express how they were feeling towards what was happening in their worlds.

Having to move from Brazil to Argentina was probably a really hard thing to have to deal with considering that his home and friends were still in Brazil. This is not somewhere that is close to where they were, its 2,916 kilometres away. When Boal arrived in Argentina this is where he developed his ideas about theatre and what he wanted to base his theatre upon.

Once he moved to Europe, trying to get away from the South American oppression he realised that instead of the physical torment that the South Americans suffered, they suffered an inward kind of suffering. The Suicide rate was extremely high. Research about the internal or inner oppressions made Boal think out of a new method in theatre – Rainbow of Desires. This method contains techniques that concentrate on identifying a person’s psychological and emotional oppressions, to find solutions to make them disappear. This means that the inability of a person to succeed, be happy and successful comes from the inside, from the head, not outside from someone else. The inner oppressors can be the person’s thoughts, fears and attitude.
This makes the techniques of Rainbow of Desires the perfect tools to help a person develop both socially and personally. This method is used to make people analyse their inner oppressions, to inspire and give strength to take control and be responsible of their actions, decisions and choices. A person can take control over his life again.

Here is a list of works that Boal produced, directed and awarded:

  • Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck) – This was his first performance as a director at the Arena Theatre of São Paulo. It is know an “Ratos e Homens” in Brazil.
  • “Games for Actors and Non Actors” – Book written by Augusto Boal in 1992 (Routledge Press)
  • Rainbow of Desire Techniques – Royal Shakespeare Company (he did it due to the characters that were cut from the play and not for those who were asking)
  • 1997 – Awarded the Career Achievement Award by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education in Chicago. He then conducted one of his 5 hour workshops.
  • Legislative Theatre. New York: Routledge Press, Fall 1998.
  •  Hamlet and the Baker’s Son.  New York:  Routledge Press, 2001.Selected Articles by Augusto Boal
  • The Cop in the Head: Three Hypotheses. in: The Drama Review. Fall 1990, 35-42.
  • Invisible theatre. in: Adult Education and Development (1979), 12, 29-31.

In the early sixties the ratings of the Arena Theatre of São Paulo dropped and was close to bankruptcy. So the company decided to invest in the national theatre which included pieces written by the Brazilian Dramaturgs. This proved to be a success and so Boal then suggested the creation of a Seminar in Dramaturgy at the Arena Theatre. This then transformed into a national platform for many young playwrights.

After living in Argentina for 14 years he returned to Brazil and found a centre in Rio which would be used to gather people to discuss, study and express issues based on citizenship, culture and various forms of oppression.

Out of 40 of Boal’s proposed laws, only 13 were approved during his term as councillor of Rio de Janeiro. His term ended in 1996, but he continued performing legislative theatre acts with different groups in Brasil, where four more laws were approved even after Boal had left.

Boal also worked with prisoners in Rio and São Paulo. Boal argued that people in prison are not free in space, but that they are in time, and that the Theatre of the Oppressed strives to create different types of freedom so that people are able to imagine and think about the past, the present, and invent the future instead of having to wait for it. All this was in order for prisoners to have “a healthier and more creative lifestyle.”

Boal in England

The summer of 1997 found Boal in England where he worked with the world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company. The RSC asked Boal to employ his Rainbow of Desire techniques in working with them on a production of Hamlet. Typical of Boal, he is not interested in the central story but in the characters who are usually cut from the play, and thus imagined a text of the marginal characters, the ones without much power. He says it might be similar to the national dish of Brazil which is based on a stew made by slaves of the leavings from the masters table.

Thinking about what Boal went through I think that the theatre that he produced he would have done it for his own piece of mind. Considering that he travelled to escape the oppression and found yet another version he would have seen and heard a lot of bad and influential things. Therefore, I think he used his theatre as a way of counselling for him and others; including those who use his techniques.

Social Context:

Augusto Boal was raised in Rio. Researching the happenings about the history of 1930’s onwards I found some devastating news. Boal actually lived with huge scares and difficult situations.

Here is a list of a few major things that stood out to me in what happened in the years of 1930-1940’s

  • 1932 – Amelia Earhart was the first person to fly across the Atlantic, solo.
  • 1933 – Adolf Hitler had the first step towards becoming supreme leader when Paul Von Hindenburg died. He became Chancellor of Germany.
  • 1933 – Al Capone was imprisoned.
  • 1933 – The first Nazi concentration camp was established.
  • 1943 – Bonnie and Clyde were killed by Police.
  • 1939 – World War 2 began.
  • 1939 – Einstein builds an atomic bomb.
  • 1939 – Wizard of Oz Movie premium.

This shows that he grew up with distress and the situations going around in the world were tough. This could of influenced the way he saw the world and how he came up with theatre later on in his life.

I found some really good material that talks about Augusto Boal and techniques.



For the second practitioner, I have chosen to study ‘Jerome Robbins’. Jerome is a choreographer who has changed history and the way that Musical Theatre have chosen to show and perform dance. He is an American choreography, director, dancer and theatre producer in classical ballet on Broadway and on film. Jerome Robbins was born in 1918 and died in 1998. Jerome has won many awards for his pieces as director and choreographer. He believed that you should use dance in a more serious way and use it to tell stories rather than what happened originally in Musical Theatre shows which was acting and then suddenly there was a song and it seemed detached from the scene. Whereas Jerome came up with the idea that the story should be linked with the dance and so there isn’t at any point where its unlinked from the scene/storyline.

Here are a list of his Broadway shows:

  • On The Town
  • West Side Story
  • Peter Pan
  • Gypsy
  • Fiddler On The Roof
  • The Kind And I

Here are a few of his ballets: (He created more that 60 ballet pieces in his lifetime)

  • Fancy Free
  • Afternoon Of A Fawn
  • In The Night
  • Glass Pieces

I feel that Jerome has influenced Dance and Musical Theatre greatly. He has changed the way Musical Theatre look at dance. Comparing the style of Jerome and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers;

Looking at all Jeromes pieces, they all varied. This piece of information summed up what Jerome did and it helped show that he was such a good choreographer, director and dancer.

“Robbins’s work is astonishingly varied. In many musicals, he integrated dance seamlessly with character, story and music. In the limpid Afternoon of a Faun, he emphasised the artifice. He has often matched movement closely to music, such as the piano pieces Dances at a Gathering or In the Night. He’s also worked with no music (Moves, 1959) and with almost no movement (Watermill, 1972). He can be serious and symbolic (Les Noces, 1965), but also comic (The Concert is a send-up that surely inspired the Trocks). His late works are more abstract; his early ones more story- or character-led. He loved academic ballet, but he also used popular styles and everyday movements.”

I found this on 19.09.16 Article by The Guardian. Here is the website where you can find this information.


Historical Context:

  • Born October 11, 1918 New York
  • He moved to New Jersey
  • He was going to study Chemistry at University but due to leaving school because of his fathers economic hardship due to the great depression, he then decided to make a career in dance.
  • First Ballet choreography was for “Fancy Free” it received 22 curtain calls. The ballet was turned into the musical ‘On The Town’ at the end of the year. This was released in 1946. Jerome was aged 28.

Social Context:

  • Parents were fleeing from the progroms. (organised massacre)
  • He was born during Word War 1.
  • He went through the Great Depression. This would affect him as his family wouldn’t have much money so he would have to make do with what he was given and wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. I think personally this would make anyone grateful for what they had and even though they didn’t have a lot of money, the family would grow stronger and coming from a tight-knit family would make the individual see what its like for other people and become understanding for other people’s situations.
  • George Balanchine was the choreographer Robbins most admired. But in terms of personal background and stylistic interest, Robbins had more in common with his contemporary Leonard Bernstein, with whom he worked several times.


Even though this isn’t to do with my practitioners I found this website that was quite intriguing and I liked reading the article at a later date (06.3.17)




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