In the field of performative research, research-through-practice has been essential to the broadening and deepening of the creative process through the investigative inquiry of performance. In this field, performance is driven by a search for knowledge and a more profound understanding of the processes at play from a performative perspective. It becomes didactic, inducing a change of perception. Performance, or embodying the creative process, allows a performer to centre themselves in a dynamic, collaborative space. The performative creative process is unique in its reliance on other bodies to complete a project, be it other performers, materials, venues, audio-visual media and projections, or more traditionally-oriented creators or directors.
A performer is not an isolated subject, but integrated into a larger whole, thus markedly changing their performative identity, relating them to their context and situation. This is not a mere adaptation to one’s surroundings, but a synergy. As an individual, they are changed by the context in which they are performing. This further develops a performer’s knowledge and skillset, thus enabling them to contribute more ‘tools’ to future performances.
But what does this mean for the non-performer? How do non-performative creative processes benefit from research-through-practice and performative research? How do non-performers deepen their understanding of creative processes through performing and gain new insights into their fields of interest? How do they increase their abilities of self-assessment and further their experiential knowledge of a given task?
At the University of Navarra (Spain), Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura y Diseño (ETSAUN), Dr. Sef Hermans worked with 36 fourth-year Design students in his class, “Scenography, a Creative and Performative Guide to Performance and Stage Design.” In small groups, students designed and performed their own modern scenography based on 19th century operas in a performative trailer. Alongside the benefits of collaborative experience, the class allowed students to explore aspects of design from a performative perspective. They gained insight about design functionality and, crucially, design performativity: the relationship between aesthetic, performer and object/material.
We consider such projects which explore these new didactic forms of theatre, music and other creative performative arts in the context of Dr. Hermans’ class and published case-studies pertaining to the benefits in multidisciplinary performative processes for non-performers. The article explores the adaptability of this methodology to other non-performative professions or endeavours. We investigate the benefits of non-performer experience of kinetic play, the connection between action and creativity; the dynamism of collaborative performance practices; emergence, the unexpected outcomes of collaborative or contextual interaction; and the use of an individual’s less-developed creative pathways.
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