The invisible expert practitioner: theorising performer expertise in contemporary performance-making

Sachsenmaier, Stefanie ORCID: (2010) The invisible expert practitioner: theorising performer expertise in contemporary performance-making. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]


This project investigates performance-making processes and productive mechanisms in contemporary performance, specifically enquiring into performer expertise within the practice. Contemporary performance making is here conceived as distinct to traditional text-based theatre-making and instead as being concerned with creative invention rather than a creative interpretation of a pre-written play. In addressing questions emerging from and of practice, this investigation approaches the enquiry from a practitioner’s perspective, seeking to establish an epistemological account of performer expertise. The project has been conceived through a practice-centred approach, with the enquiry taking place in both the traditional academic mode, as well as in a performance practice mode, leading to a written dissertation as well as the documentation of a series of publicly presented performances including instances of rehearsal processes, made available online as well as on a web archive CD. The thesis establishes from the outset the necessity for a process-sensitive approach to a theorisation of performance-making and identifies, in published writing related to the field, a lack of analytical concern with ‘process’. It draws on theoretical models borrowed from both the disciplines of ‘process philosophy’ and ‘practice theory’, in order to establish a practice-philosophical model of performance-making. A historical account of the emergence of performance inventive practices and specifically of the function of the performer as the creator of performance ‘material’ in those practices, leads to a conceptualisation of performer expertise in which ‘selfcultivation’ as well as the notion of the ‘singular’ are defining. Performance-making is more specifically theorised as a creative inventive process in which practitioners work with a ‘sense’ of something that is crucially ‘unforeseeable’ before the moment or moments of its emergence, yet recognisable in terms of performance-specific decision-making when it does emerge. The sort of ‘sensing’ that is at stake in this context is identified as ‘expert-intuitive’, in its capacity as unforeseeable but recognised. The thesis draws briefly on published accounts from the fields of neuroscience as well as philosophy in order to attempt to create an epistemological account of performer expertise, with a specific focus on expert decision-making processes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts
A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Theatre Arts group
Item ID: 12328
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Depositing User: Stefanie Sachsenmaier
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2013 08:19
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:45

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