Investigating Invention - The Body, Language, Definitions and Exploration

Feature in Issue 7-2 | Summer 1995

These are uncertain times! As those in the performing arts reel from the deconstructive effects of post-modernism, artists are searching for concrete structures on which they can build their new creations. The decision that nothing can be taken for granted and that everything must be infinitely questioned until the concept of meaning can no longer be seen, seems to be an outmoded path to creation. The current emphasis appears to focus more on the search for recognisable structures.

This is undoubtedly a long and difficult journey, but the important point is that it is happening. The results may not always be successful but they are certainly invaluable in their exploratory nature. Practitioners, performers, dancers, directors, and writers are all involved in the process of considering and reconsidering their respective roles in the creation and development of theatre practice and performance. They are addressing questions such as – What is performance? Where does it take place? Who are the participants?

Of course, these are not new questions. One could even suggest that such orthodoxies are no longer relevant in today’s theatrical climate but the fact is that the artists are continuing to consider pre-conceived notions of their respective arts. Perhaps one of the most important issues is that of cross artform integration.

The following articles look at the work of organisations and people who are creating part of that active dialogue between body- and gesture-based work and varied arts disciplines. Dick McCaw, Director of the International Workshop Festival, talks about the importance of cross artform exploration in revitalising British Theatre Practice. Ruth Ben-Tovim of Louder Than Words discusses her company’s recent experiments with the scientific fields of Chaos, Cosmology and theatre practice. Chris Rowbury, Simon Murray and Nigel Stewart provide an overview of Lancaster University’s forthcoming practical exploration into the performer’s ability to transcend daily life and one’s ability to develop a kinaesthetic body memory, and The Centre for Performance Research’s Conference on Meyerhold planned for October. And looking at communication – Nathanial S. York presents Common Ground Sign Dance Theatre’s creation of a performance structure using sign language, and Ben Payne from the New Playwrights’ Trust discusses the need to develop a new spoken vocabulary for body-based theatre.

This article in the magazine

Issue 7-2
p. 4 - 5