Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Visual and Performing Arts
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Theatre and Performance Studies
For my Capstone project, I was interested in both creating an original piece of theatre and testing a theory I had developed about the way in which a sense of ensemble is cultivated in a company of actors. I theorized that group training in one or more movement disciplines could generate a sense of ensemble just as easily as games or improvisation while having the added benefit of helping us generate material for the particularly physical piece of theatre which I had envisioned. To test the theory, I wrote an original adaptation of the classical Greek tragedy, Electra by Sophocles. With the help of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, the Syracuse University Department of Drama, and the Black Box Players, I was able to produce and direct this original adaptation in the Lab Theatre at the Regents Theatre Complex with student actors from the Department of Drama and an extended rehearsal period to allow for the kind of experimentation the project required.
In the six weeks of rehearsal prior to incorporating lights and sound, the actors and I worked extensively in the disciplines of gymnastics, judo, and butoh to build a sense of ensemble within the company and to develop skill sets which might serve the production. During the first week of rehearsal we did little else but train in these disciplines, overseen in part by our fight director, Felix Ivanov, Assistant Professor of movement and stage combat in the Department of Drama; our gymnastics coach, Emily Robinson, a senior acting major; and myself. Even without the supervision of Emily or Felix, we performed exercises in each discipline for at least an hour each day, six days each week, for six weeks.
We also participated in a variety of ensemble-building activities outside of rehearsal such as seeing plays and movies together, taking classes together, and helping to build the sets and hang the lights for the show together.
After the production had begun performances, I collected data by having each of the actors complete an online survey in which they indicated which of the many activities or exercises we performed over the course of the rehearsal period they believed to be most important in creating a sense of ensemble. These surveys supported my hypothesis by showing that it was our movement training, more than any other game, improvisation, activity, or event which contributed to the actors’ sense of being a part of an ensemble.
After reflecting on the project, I was able to extrapolate new theories about the nature of collaboration and identify several core beliefs which this project has shown to be vital parts of my emerging personal artistic point of view.
Rosin, Jordan, "Ensemble Theatre Techniques: Butoh Electra" (2011). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 234.
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