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Removing the ‘Cloak of Invisibility’: New Zealand Directors Discuss Theatre Directing Praxis

This thesis reveals central thematic concerns relating to directing text-based professional theatre in New Zealand. How does a select cohort of professional New Zealand theatre directors bring texts dynamically to life? How have they directed actors through texts? What are the origins and contours of these praxes? What and who have been the key influences? And how do they view the role and function of a director and of theatre? The thesis analyses the praxis of ten contemporary New Zealand theatre directors whose work is typically generated from classic and contemporary play scripts. It does this through the creation of an original archive of semi-structured interviews. The thesis focuses on five key themes: constraints, freedoms, key methodological influences, working with actors in rehearsal, and working with actors towards revelation. Taking a case study approach, the thesis seeks points of similarity and difference between these directors’ praxis, arguing that principal findings are characteristic of professional New Zealand theatre directing in general. The thesis contends that this representation of text-based theatre directing in New Zealand exhibits distinctive characteristics. These include a variety of ‘actor-centric’ techniques. British director Mike Alfreds has made a particular contribution to contemporary New Zealand theatre directing practice, especially since his masterclass with directors and actors, held in 1989, and this work is considered in depth. The thesis concludes that the while the trope of interpretive directing in New Zealand is varied and nuanced, there are common threads that together weave a ‘cloak of invisibility’. In revealing the fabric and shape of this cloak, it argues that these New Zealand theatre directors have a distinct voice and are engaged in constructing a distinctive post-colonial praxis, while at the same time making a significant contribution to the evolving discourse of international theatre directing and performance practice.  
Type of thesis
Byrnes, V. (2015). Removing the ‘Cloak of Invisibility’: New Zealand Directors Discuss Theatre Directing Praxis (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/9427
University of Waikato
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