Experiment 5: Character, Body and Text

A nine-day experiment at The Danish National School of Theatre.

The purpose of the experiment was to examine the magic moment where a stage character emerges. Both at an internal, subjective level and at an external, objective level.

The experiment investigated:

  • - the specific elements that enable the performer to perceive her/him as a character and the elements constituting that moment. 
  • - the specific elements that constitute the minimum requirements enabling the audience/viewer to perceive the performer as being a character. 

Combining discussions with several practical exercises making use of the participant’s different areas of expertise (acting technique, dancing, performance and classical singing technique), the experiment was part of two larger investigations: Barbros Smed’s artist-in-residence project at Nordic Resort entitled: “A character – what kind of being is it really?” The Laboratory’s series of experiments “Methods of Text Development” examining alternative methods of producing text for the performing arts. Both examinations had the common interest in wanting to break with regular perceptions and working methods; especially the psychological perception of character and the individualistic method of manuscripts.

The overall purpose was to contribute to the development of new production processes and creating new artistic possibilities. The experiment had two aims: To test concrete methods of creating characters and – on the basis of these – to collect new, concrete ways of working with text and performances. To question what a character really is: What do different kinds of performing arts and artists understand by the notion of a character/role; how do their different methodical approaches influence this understanding? By exploring the complex interplay between what was happening on the floor and by reflecting and exchanging ideas, the experiment’s participants embarked on a philosophical journey.