Playing Together at the Thresholds

  • Amanda Bolt

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis has set out to understand what is happening when impro is practised as a performance form and ask whether impro is a subversive performance practice at odds with the dominant order as described by Foucault. The research questions are whether or not performance that is improvised in the moment can be seen as ‘other’ to authored or devised theatre practices in the same way that woman can be seen as ‘other’ to the male norm. This practice-led-research has isolated and analysed themes emerging from the practice of impro using methods of action research and grounded theory applied to data collected from interviews with female impro practitioners as well as the researcher’s own experiences of practising impro. The resulting themes that have been discovered are those of marginality, playfulness and communality. Victor Turner and Mikhail Bakhtin’s notions of the liminal, the ludic and communitas have been mapped onto these themes and the phrase ‘liminal ludic communitas’ has been developed to refer to the feelings of well-being that are generated when performers practice impro. The research has discovered that impro, paradoxically, both subverts and asserts the dominant order. The form of impro, whereby performances are co- created playfully in the space and time of the present without authorship or artefact, subverts the dominant order of production and consumption whilst at the same time the character identities and stories that form the content of the improvisations tend to assert the dominant order through cliché and stereotype.
Date of Award12 Jul 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorJune Boyce-Tillman (Supervisor) & Olu Taiwo (Supervisor)

Cite this

Impro:: Playing Together at the Thresholds
Bolt, A. (Author). 12 Jul 2013

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis