PerformanceIn performance there are three stages of development when creating a performance piece with the first being Improvisation

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Danielle Hilton                 The Language of Performance Arts

Performance Studies AS

Unit 2556: The language of Performing Arts

“The thing about performance, even if it's only an illusion, is that it is a celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities”

Sydney Smith

I have always thought that performance is about showing situation/emotions that others can only dream about, when acting you are living/creating the life, if only for a moment of infinite number of possibilities, the above quotes sums up my view perfectly. The Idea of creating a performance for an audience fires my imagination. I try to analyse performance to see how things work/don’t work.


In performance there are three stages of development when creating a performance piece with the first being Improvisation, which involves the trialling of ideas and techniques such as movement in dance to create an atmosphere reflecting the stimuli first given. During this course we have devised and performed pieces in; Dance, Drama, Music and Combined, all pieces were done in small groups. Some Examples of the stimuli we used are; “Free Bird” – Lynard Skyner, The Sleepy Sentinel – Rudyard Tipling and Squenza 111 for Female voice – Berio. An example of stimuli for drama was a Drama piece called Brazen (weep), which suggested to a feeling of freedom and reflected loneliness, all felt that we could create a piece with a central character that would stop at nothing to get what she wanted, by using motifs and transitions to create an atmosphere reflective of the primary atmosphere of given stimuli.


One stage of improvisation is developing the storyline/action of the piece, which I found to be challenging but however I felt if the initial ideas were well though out, developing them became easer as we had some structure as a foundation to work around. Playing around with several ideas and just generally thinking what it would be like to be in a specific situation helped the development of believable characters/pieces. This was particularly important for us when developing our final combined piece  (stimuli for my combined piece was “Years Ago” were discarded. One of the ideas that we later dropped was for the main character, to continuously be innocent/trustworthy; this idea wasn’t used due the fact we wanted to add contrast in the piece. However one of the initial ideas that we did use for use for the final piece was not to show the change of scenes with major alterations to the set, and to have only one prop (lit match – focus point for the audience) apart from costume so in order to convey the change of scene we used lighting and proxemics.

 Constantin Stanislavski teaches that actors should draw from their own experiences, to understand and interpret emotions and events that the character may experience. Therefore it is essential that emotions and reactions become absorbed in the fictitious world of the character and are not reproduced mechanically or the illusion of reality will be lost. This concept is best defined in the following Stanislavski quote…

“The more an actor has observed and known, the greater their experience, the clearer their perception of inner and outer circumstances of the life in both play and part”

Constantin Stanislavski

During improvisation we talked about “on-stage” action and how we should base our performances on “action  - reaction” - the purpose of action? Stanislavski has a system with an important principle, which, states all onstage action must have a purpose. This means that the performer’s attention must always be focused on a series of physical actions linked together by the circumstances of the play. These actions are determined by asking three essential questions… What? Why? How?

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An action is performed, such as opening a letter (What). The letter has been sent because it has some important information about the characters family (Why) .The letter is opened anxiously, slowly (How). These physical actions, which occur from moment to moment in any performance, are in turn are governed by a characters overall objective in the performance. Performers do not act alone; they react with/off other people.


“The Actor must first of all believe in everything that takes place onstage, and most of all they must believe what themselves are doing – one can only believe in ...

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