Training the gaze: reciprocal looking in storytelling performance

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

In many forms of popular performance, there is a distinctive, if not unique, relationship set up between performer and spectator insofar as the performer addresses herself directly to the spectator. In storytelling performances as diverse as autobiographical performance, storytelling and stand-up comedy, performer and spectator enter into relationships, predicated on a complex exchange of looking. Some practitioners maintain that the reciprocity of this exchange underpins a fundamentally ‘authentic’ relationship (Martin 1996). Storytellers are expected not only to acknowledge directly the audience, but to engage with and respond to this co-presence, modulating the performance according to how they see the spectators responding. However, such reciprocity is often a challenge for novice performers. One challenge is reported as being exposed or naked, without the mask of character or role as protection. Being seen is one dimension of this looking relationship. Novice performers can address this challenge, both through training in the ways in which they might present themselves and being conditioned through repetition to the fears of being looked at. A second dimension is the capacity to read the response of an audience and to modulate one’s performance accordingly. Training here may be a matter of engaging with a process of experiential learning through exposure to different audience events so that, through such praxis, the storyteller’s capacity is developed. This tests the limits of classroom-based training and raises questions about the show-casing of new performers within public events.
LanguageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013
EventTaPRA Annual Conference - Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Duration: 1 Sep 2013 → …

Conference

ConferenceTaPRA Annual Conference
Period1/09/13 → …

Fingerprint

Storytelling
Performer
Spectator
Novice
Storyteller
Mask
Stand-up Comedy
Experiential Learning
Praxis

Keywords

  • theatre training
  • contemporary performance
  • reciprocity
  • the gaze

Cite this

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title = "Training the gaze: reciprocal looking in storytelling performance",
abstract = "In many forms of popular performance, there is a distinctive, if not unique, relationship set up between performer and spectator insofar as the performer addresses herself directly to the spectator. In storytelling performances as diverse as autobiographical performance, storytelling and stand-up comedy, performer and spectator enter into relationships, predicated on a complex exchange of looking. Some practitioners maintain that the reciprocity of this exchange underpins a fundamentally ‘authentic’ relationship (Martin 1996). Storytellers are expected not only to acknowledge directly the audience, but to engage with and respond to this co-presence, modulating the performance according to how they see the spectators responding. However, such reciprocity is often a challenge for novice performers. One challenge is reported as being exposed or naked, without the mask of character or role as protection. Being seen is one dimension of this looking relationship. Novice performers can address this challenge, both through training in the ways in which they might present themselves and being conditioned through repetition to the fears of being looked at. A second dimension is the capacity to read the response of an audience and to modulate one’s performance accordingly. Training here may be a matter of engaging with a process of experiential learning through exposure to different audience events so that, through such praxis, the storyteller’s capacity is developed. This tests the limits of classroom-based training and raises questions about the show-casing of new performers within public events.",
keywords = "theatre training, contemporary performance, reciprocity, the gaze",
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note = "This paper was presented at full conference panel, convened under the auspices of the Popular Performances Working Group. Reference text: Boenisch, P. (2012) ‘Acts of Spectating: The Dramaturgy of the Audience’s Experience in Contemporary Theatre.’ Critical Stages. The IATC Webjournal 7 [online]. Available: http://www.criticalstages.org/criticalstages7/entry/Acts-of-Spectating-The-Dramaturgy-of-the-Audiencersquos-Experience-in-Contemporary-Theatre?category=2#sthash.br0dyZDq.dpbs. Accessed 16/04/13 Dickson, J. (2004) 'Theatricality, Voyeurism, and Moli{\`e}re's Misanthrope: Yesterday and Today.' Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 18(2): 41-54 Kohn, Abby and Silverstein, Marc (2007)He’s Just Not That Into You. July 20. The Internet Moviescript Database [online] at http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/He's-Just-Not-That-Into-You.html. Accessed 15/04/13 Nally, C. (2009): 'Grrrly hurly burly: neo-burlesque and the performance of gender' Textual Practice, 23:4, 621-643 Tuffery, H. (2011) Are you looking at me? The reciprocal gaze and art psychotherapy.' ATOL: Art Therapy Online, 1 (3) Turner, J. (2011) ‘Diegetic Theatre as a ‘Place’ for the Theatricalised Spectator’ Platform, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spectatorship and Participation [online]. Available http://www.rhul.ac.uk/dramaandtheatre/documents/pdf/platform/61/5diegetictheatre.pdf. Accessed 16/04/13",
year = "2013",
month = "9",
language = "English",
booktitle = "Unknown Host Publication",

}

Maguire, T 2013, Training the gaze: reciprocal looking in storytelling performance. in Unknown Host Publication. TaPRA Annual Conference, 1/09/13.

Training the gaze: reciprocal looking in storytelling performance. / Maguire, Tom.

Unknown Host Publication. 2013.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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