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Title: Acting theory as poetic of drama: A study of the emergence of the concept of 'motivated action' in playwriting theory
Authors: Ferreira de Mendonça, Guilherme Abel
Advisors: Freeman, J
Schiller, G
Keywords: Playwriting;Theatre;Dramaturgy;Stanislavsky - The method of physical actions;Characters' intentionality
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Brunel University School of Arts PhD Theses
Abstract: Playwriting theory has, from its beginning, been concerned with the search for the essential nature of dramatic writing. Early playwriting treatises (poetics) defined the essential aspects of drama as being the plot (creation of sequences of fictional events), the moral character of its heroes, the idea of enactment, or the rhetorical and lyrical qualities of the text. These categories were kept through later treatises with different emphasis being put on each category. An understanding of drama as a sequence of fictional events (plot) has been central in acting theory. Modern theories and techniques centred on Stanislavsky’s ideas rely heavily on rehearsal methods that carefully establish the sequence of actions of the characters in a play as a result of psychological motivations. This method was described by Stanislavsky in An Actor’s Work on a Role, published in 1938, and is known as the Method of Physical Actions. This thesis reassesses the definition of playwriting as consisting essentially in the creation of a plot populated by suitable characters. Rather than discussing playwriting theory in isolation it attempts a bridge between acting theory and playwriting theory by using the Method of Physical Actions as an equivalent to plot. Acting theory is thus considered as a theoretical justification for the centrality of plot. The method used is hermeneutic — a systematic interpretation of poetics, unveiling in almost an archaeological manner the relevance of the essential definitions of drama, such as character, source, genre, and language to the concept of plot. The chronological path of development of dramatic theories is shown to be gradual: from the strict obedience to the narrative line imposed by the mythic sources, in classical treatises; through to an interest in the lyrical expression of the predicament of specific characters, in neoclassical theory; to an awareness of specific social types in the eighteenth century; and, finally, to the conception of the plot as a product of the mental life of individual characters in modern theory.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Theatre
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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