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The Body Finds a Voice: An Investigation Into The Dual Identity of Physical Theatre in Dance and Drama.

Lark, Christine. (1999) The Body Finds a Voice: An Investigation Into The Dual Identity of Physical Theatre in Dance and Drama. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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This study conducts an investigation into physical theatre; a multi-faceted and newly-resilient genus of the expressionist dance-drama hybrids produced in the early part of this century. Once considered 'mules', incapable of propagating their own species, dance-dramas are currently enjoying a renaissance in a postmodern and body-focused era and have become manifestly a significant part of British theatre culture in the nineties. There is, however, some confusion as to the meaning of the term ‘physical theatre’ and the type of production it signifies which has arisen largely because of its dual usage within the separate disciplinary spheres of drama and dance. Currently, the meaning attached to the term ‘physical theatre’ by the drama theoretician, and the type of work to which it refers in drama, makes little or no reference to the use of the term within dance. It is the contention of this thesis that there is a problematic relationship between the two strands of work which remains, as yet, largely unexplored in critical discourse. The thesis probes this relationship by drawing together the concepts of British physical theatre in dance and drama and cross-referencing the theories and practices associated with each discipline in search of underlying commonalities and differentiating features. The forms are first traced through historical, philosophical and semiotic lines of enquiry to locate the hybrid tensions in the work and to synthesise appropriate analytical precepts gleaned from both drama and dance perspectives. The study then proceeds to test theory against practice by analysing five physical theatre texts, that cross the spectrum from dance to drama, with the aim of illuminating a set of textual mechanisms and traits that could be said to collectively characterise this style of production. Finally, characteristics of vocal and bodily signification are analysed in selected extracts of work by Theatre de Complicite and DV8 Physical theatre (as examples of 'drama-' and 'dance-physical-theatre' respectively) in order to evaluate the ways in which the works continue to be marked by their disciplinary origins. It is argued that, while the work inevitably bears the inscription of one or other of the form's dual legacies, both strands of physical theatre generate a similar kind of reading experience or idiolect: this is one which places the holistic body at the centre of theatrical discourse; filters its expressionism through a series of postmodem devices; and exhibits a set of textual traits defined by a matrix of dialectical realities. It is posited that the establishment of these dialectical frameworks, in the opening 'key signature' of each piece, is central to physical theatre's facility to translocate between vocal and bodily modes of signification without loss of coherence in the meanings, moods and significances communicated.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Lark, Christine.
Date : 1999
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 1999.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 06 May 2020 12:15
Last Modified : 06 May 2020 12:17

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