Reflecting on the process : actors' documentation of comic performance (and the case of Bull fighting Beckett)

Wilkie, I ORCID: 2016, 'Reflecting on the process : actors' documentation of comic performance (and the case of Bull fighting Beckett)' , Comedy Studies, 7 (1) , pp. 1-9.

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This article considers actors' documentation of their process and suggest how performers' ‘reflection-on action’ might become more formalised in the study and recording of performance. While ‘autobiographical’ material is generally regarded as being unreliable in providing source material for the documentation of performance, validated documented contributions on what the central producer – the actor – brings to theatre, film or television productions tend to be hard to find. Actors' memoirs provide, at best, fleeting glimpses into the performer's process within the overall play or film. Nonetheless, where documentary examples of performer's input do exist, these can offer valuable insights into the nature of the part that the performer plays in the creation of the artefact. The case for making more formal documentation of process (particularly for performers-in-training) is presented here. The article draws on one brief case study to indicate how, even the most informal documentary evidence that is available (appearing in both published and unpublished forms), it can be useful in illuminating the actor's process. This illustrative case study element features the writing of the character actor Peter Bull (1912--1984) and charts, specifically, his experiences of playing Pozzo in the first British production of Samuel Beckett's seminal, absurdist tragicomedy Waiting for Godot in 1955–1956. Bull's reflections are mined in order to propose the value that such reflective documentation of process can bring to the whole picture of the making of a piece of comic theatre.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Journal or Publication Title: Comedy Studies
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
ISSN: 2040-610X
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Dr I Wilkie
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2016 09:07
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2019 16:43

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