Co-directing, co-creating, collaborating: a self-‐reflexive study of my collaborative theatre-making practice.
Van der Walt, Tanya Lenore.
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One of the first things any Drama or Theatre student learns is the maxim ‘Theatre is a collaborative art’. However, the question of what it means to be truly collaborative in one’s approach, the range of different types of collaboration, and the deep seated workings of the collaborative act, are rarely discussed in considering the art of theatre-‐making. This study uses self-‐study methodologies to examine my own practice of collaborative theatre-‐making, in order to gain a greater understanding of the educational implications of my work as director, theatre-‐maker, and educator. In so doing, I reflect on my own long-‐term, scholarly, creative, and pedagogical partnership, by examining our co-‐created work, the FrontLines Project, as the focal case-‐study of this thesis. Section 1 answers the question “How do I enact my collaborative theatre-‐making practice? (with specific reference to the FrontLines Project), through a discussion of theories and practices of devising theatre, and a detailed analysis of the making of the FrontLines Project. Section 2 considers the question “Who am I as a collaborator?”. I engage with theoretical understandings of collaboration, and creative collaboration, and excavate my own practice as a collaborative theatre-‐maker, identifying a series of ‘selves’ at work in my practice. Section 3 asks “How does my practice of collaborative theatre-‐making create a space for teaching and learning? Why?”. I identify ten different types of teaching and learning which can be identified in the FrontLines Project. Then, I posit a theoretical understanding of why this teaching and learning took place in the project, using a Vygotskian model. In so doing, I conceive of my collaborative theatre-‐making practice as a complex Zone of Proximal Development, in which we can grow and develop as collaborators and co-‐constructors of meaning, as both knower and learner, teacher and student, leader and follower, more capable peer and less capable peer, thinker and doer. In this way the process of collaborative theatre-‐making becomes a developmental process in which affective skills, critical thinking skills, communication skills, creative skills, and cognitive skills are grown and expanded.