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Title:A Reassessment of the Aesthetics of Audience Response and Audience-Performer Interaction in the Theatrical Event: The Transpersonal Paradigm
Author(s):Kubler, John Albert
Department / Program:Theatre
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:There is a lack of serious critical thought regarding the audience and audience-performer interaction in the theatrical performance. There also is an impasse in research into these matters today. No empirical study of audience-actor interaction during the performance has been able to demonstrate significant effects of such interaction, and, due to the demise of direct-action audience participational avant-garde productions in the 1970s, a degree of misunderstanding surrounding concepts of audience participation has surfaced. Yet, a considerable number of professional actors have described their experiences of a deeply spiritual, almost mystical interaction with their audiences which is at odds with our traditional scientific paradigm of communicational possibilities.
Because of these factors, this critical study formulated the following goals: (1) an ingathering of findings from pertinent fields of investigation having a bearing upon audience response and audience-performer interaction, and (2) the formulation of a more complete and modernized theory about audience response and audience-performer interaction which leads toward a clearer understanding of the spiritual interaction actors allude to. Fields of investigation examined are: aesthetics, literary theory, neurophysiology, sports psychology, communicology, social psychology, quantum physics, parapsychology, and transpersonal psychology.
We found that confusion abounds over the meaning of traditional concepts which were used to describe the audience's aesthetic response. Furthermore, we found that our traditional formalistic view of audience interpretation does not admit the participation of the perceiver's imagination as an essential aspect of the act of perceiving significance. Hence, this study proposes a perceiver-centered theory of interpretation, modeled upon reader-centered literary theories. Finally, we found that our mechanomorphic paradigm of science and behavioral psychology does not acknowledge the spiritual communicative bond felt by actors and audiences. Hence, this study proposes a theory of multi-leveled interaction between performer and audience, modeled upon findings from research into "peak performance states" and transpersonal psychology.
Chapter One introduces the research problem; Chapter Two focuses on the individual audience member's responses; Chapter Three deals with intra-audience "group" interaction; Chapter Four deals with audience-actor interaction; Chapter Five explores alternative ways of viewing interpersonal interaction and perception; and finally, Chapter Six presents concluding reassessments and new theoretical propositions.
Issue Date:1987
Description:345 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8721682
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1987

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