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Exercises in Constraint: The Poetics of the OuLiPo in Performance

Bray, Oliver Pierre (2018) Exercises in Constraint: The Poetics of the OuLiPo in Performance. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The OuLiPo (the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, which roughly translates as the Workshop for Potential Literature) is a French writing group that has been generating literature under self-imposed constraints since 1960. In this thesis I investigate how the poetics of the Oulipo can be used to service the creation of contemporary performance work. In turn, this investigation seeks to use the lens of contemporary performance practice to illuminate the philosophies and characteristics of the Oulipo. The poetics of the Oulipo comprise highly practical methodology of both conceptual consideration of potential and the application of generative constraint in literature. To best approach the back-and-forth reflection of performance practice and the Oulipo through the consideration of the group’s poetics, this investigation is necessarily practice-led. I have undertaken three performance projects, each profiled in a professional context, to investigate the possibilities of oulipian poetics in contemporary performance practice. A combination of scholarly, comparative and practice-led research has been used to demonstrate how the poetics of the Oulipo might inform performance making strategies. In the first project, oulipian poetics produce a set of working constraints to be used in the devising practices of performance making. The second project demonstrates that constraints can be deployed in the formal treatment of an existing playtext towards the creation of a total theatrical work. The third project presents an improvisational training model that enables the performer to operate under constraint in the live moment of material generation and performance. Throughout this thesis the practice-led enquiry presents opportunities to reflect upon the Oulipo’s rich artistic history, their paradoxically serious and playful poetics and finally how their one exception to the law of constraint, the clinamen, may unexpectedly be positioned as the group’s most significant constraint of all.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Keywords: Oulipo, Constraint, Performance, Theatre, Live Art
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Performance and Cultural Industries (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.755127
Depositing User: Mr OP Bray
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2018 09:41
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:32
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21505

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