FUN[DA]MENTAL [TEXT] ENCOUNTER
PRACTICE AS RESEARCH PROJECT
[By Jef Hall-Flavin]
Royal Central School of Speech & Drama
As you’re reading these words, do you hear your own voice? Someone else’s? What connections do those words conjure? Now think of the ways you encounter text: speaking, reading, writing, listening – often all at once. In a play, how do you manage to form meaning from the text? And in what ways? In performance, how many narratives are crashing against each other simultaneously, and can the text mean the same thing to you as it does to someone else? Who is the writer of this meaning?
As a U.S.-trained director, the author has loomed as a transcendent figure in my work. The play-text has been an outside authority, and my job as the director was to discover its meaning. But now I’m rethinking text as an assemblage of connections. Why must the play-text be the outside starting point? I’m finding ways of asking how meaning can be discovered from the text’s rhizomatic connections: director, actors, environment, audience.
There is a fixity and history that a famous 400-year-old play brings with it. My challenge is to find ways of fostering immanence in performance, even with a fixed play-text.
Using text from The Merchant of Venice, FUN [DA] MENTAL [TEXT] ENCOUNTER employed the use of projection, voiceover and audience input to consider the role of immanence in authorship and meaning.
My project is to conceive of directorship as an intensive multiplicity of authorship. Using Shakespeare’s words, this encounter aimed to re-frame the fixity of the text as an assemblage in flux: a rhizomatic, active creation.
The research I carried out in this BRINK Festival project was used as part of a larger piece of scholarship in the form of an MFA dissertation. It sparked my ongoing research interrogating the relationship of text and meaning by reframing text as an event using process-relational philosophy.
[SECRETS OF BECOMING]
Il n’y a pas de choses, il n’y a que des événements, tout est événement.
There are no things,
there are only events,
all is event.
Gilles Deleuze, 1987
[THEATRES OF IMMANENCE]
Thought is not the product of language,
but of what Deleuze calls a “fundamental encounter”
... an alternative account of thought:
not as the recognition of existing meanings,
but as an embodied, creative process
born of the encounter.
Laura Cull Ò Maoilearca, 2012