Tritagonist Theatre: investigating the potential for bystander agency through three interconnected solo performances

PhD Thesis

Hunt, A. 2023. Tritagonist Theatre: investigating the potential for bystander agency through three interconnected solo performances. PhD Thesis University of Derby Music and Performing Arts
AuthorsHunt, A.
TypePhD Thesis

This study demonstrates contribution to the field of knowledge and practice of applied theatre. Over a ten-year period, Ava Hunt researched, co-wrote, performed and toured three solo productions: I’m No Hero (2009, 2010), The Kites Are Flying (2013) and Acting Alone (2014–2018). The productions experimented with form, integrating film, immersive participation, and verbatim/autobiographical storytelling techniques to explore the intractable Israeli–Palestinian conflict, asking: How is solo performance able to engage diverse communities in difficult questions about social justice, and support the development of critical thinking skills to empower bystanders and to make a difference to marginalised communities?
Hunt, an artist, researcher and teacher, utilised a/r/tography, a practice-based research methodology (Springgay, Irwin, Leggo and Gouzouasis, 2008), to propel the development of the three productions and the published work. I’m No Hero (INH) interwove the heroic acts of two women: Irena Sendler (who saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto under Nazi occupation) and Rachel Corrie (who was killed by Israeli Defence Forces while protecting Palestinian children). The Kites Are Flying (TKAF) was adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s book for children. Set in Palestine, TKAF explored the pedagogy of hope in oppressed and incarcerated communities. Acting Alone utilised verbatim and autobiographical accounts of field research conducted in Palestine, together with participatory elements, to transform the hierarchical relationship between spectator and performer. These works led to the published article ‘Acting Alone: exploring bystander engagement through performer/audience relationship’ (Hunt, 2019), which is submitted alongside the three performances as a coherent body of four published works.
The article coined the term tritagonist audience to empower bystander audiences through offering a rehearsal of agency in relation to an intractable international conflict. This critical appraisal frames and traces the development of Tritagonist Theatre through the four submitted works and proposes a toolkit that can be used in further research, pedagogic practice and applied theatre. The toolkit could be developed further and/or extrapolated to other conflicts. Using the active tritagonist model, the toolkit is intended to contribute to spectator empowerment.

KeywordsSolo performance, Applied Theatre, Tritagonist, Tritagonist Theatre, Bystander agency, Bystander rehearsal, solo performance, participatory theatre, Israeli/Palestinian conflict
PublisherCollege of Arts, Humanities and Education, University of Derby
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited07 Mar 2023
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