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Viktoria Volkova

Cognitive concepts of „doing gender“ in improvisation. (at the material of rehearsal)

Judith Butler determined the gender identity as a product of performative acts. Trough the term of performativity the gender identity which describes the perpetual process of quoting and repetition along the discursive lines was established as human activity. In the effect of performativity the acting object and his intention plays an essentially new role: the acting object attains his meaning as production of starting point of his activity while he embodies this meaning spontaneously. Turning our attention to the regularly repeating character of performative acts it is obviously that the conditions of embodiment can be compared with these of the theatre performance (after J. Butler). My research is focused on rehearsal processes where through developing of the performing text the character (figure) and the gender identity can be constituted and where the intention of the performer is embodied in form of “mental representations” (or concepts). Whether cold ignoring mixed with arrogant mockery as the result of jealousy or a serious face full of pride is performed on stage – both “jealousy” and “pride” are structured in our awareness in form of mental representations or concepts. Such concepts can be embodied and performed through improvised acts. That’s why mental representations – or cognitive concepts – which are embodied through improvisation are object of my research. Moments in the same scene which are staged by the performer from rehearsal to rehearsal in a new, unrepeatable way can be called improvised moments. The research focuses on the improvisations during the rehearsal process where cognitive concepts “love”, “jealousy”, “shame” and “pride” are embodied through performative acts of the actors (performers) and where the gender identity of the figure is constituted through the performer’s body. But if we take into consideration the fact that actors are also bodies with specific genders, then there is a question to what extent they are free to develop the role if they may only act within the instructions of director. By what staging means do they embody every above-mentioned cognitive concept on stage? The eventful character of “doing gender” on stage has in this sense a very aesthetic effect which rises the question of development of new aesthetics – the aesthetics of “doing gender” and reveals possibilities for further research.  


Contact: vivalavika[at]mail.ru


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