Doctoral research project

”The poetics of enlivening...” by Kerstin Perski

Kerstin Perski successfully defended her artistic research project The poetics of enlivening. Searching for the music drama Borderlands and the transformation of the drama through text, vocal and instrumental acting on 3 April 2020, within the doctoral programme Performative and mediated practices. The documented artistic research project (doctoral thesis) can be found in Research Catalogue and DIVA.

Visit the project The poetics of enlivening. Searching for the music drama Borderlands and the transformation of the drama through text, vocal and instrumental acting in DiVA and on the Research Catalogue.

Kerstin Perski’s doctoral research project "The poetics of enlivening. In search of the music drama Borderland and the transformation of the drama through text, vocal and instrumental acting" has as its aim to explore and implement more interdisciplinary methods with regard to interaction between textual, musical and body elements in the creation of a new musical drama with the working name “Borderland”. The aim is to create a better setting for the interaction between performance and audience so it can be permeated by a stronger presence and thus become a living interaction in a contemporary context, both in terms of content and form. 

Kerstin Perski’s doctoral research project about the dramatic interaction between text, music and voice/body in musical drama started in September 2014.

The photo above is from a performance of Son of Heaven at Vadstena Academy in 2015. Photographer: Markus Gårder

Background 

The conventional and traditionally established method of working with opera – a method that is also applied in the majority of cases in the creation of new musical dramas – involves a sort of “transmission” that occurs throughout the whole process, where different professional functions come in at different points in time and pick up the work. This complex and diverse process involves a large amount of handover from one artist to another. A sort of game of “Chinese whispers” takes place, where the point is for each person in the chain to add their artistry to the whole, but where there is also a risk that the “dramatic keys” of the material can be “brushed out” along the way.

Goal & Purpose  

The purpose of the project is to explore and implement more interdisciplinary methods with regard to collaboration between textual, musical and body elements in the creation of a new musical drama with the working name “Borderland”.

The aim is to create a better setting for the interaction between performance and audience so it can be permeated by a stronger presence and thus become a living interaction in a contemporary context, both in terms of content and form. Or, if we borrow from the philosopher Martin Buber’s thinking, to examine the setting for creating a “You-and-Me” relationship with the audience rather than promoting the “Me-and-it” relationship that opera and musical drama risk establishing owing to their virtuosity and focus on balance.

Issues 

The following research issues will be examined:

  • Can I, as a librettist/textual author, together with the composer, explore the dramatic material/content from several different points of view early in the process, and examine what the different elements (text, music and voice/body) can do in the collective interpretation of the dramatic essence of the piece?
     
  • Can we use any of the study methods that actors use (such as improvisation and freer association work with the material) with a view to making the basic material/content the artists’ own at an early stage of the interpretation process, generating new material and with a view to achieving a grounding of the written text and the music in those involved?
     
  • Can we both work with singers and actors, and use speech and song and different voice variations between the two, on equal terms, as interpretive elements in a musicalised context where they all serve the specific musical drama we are striving for? The objective of this is to challenge a universal opera idiom and seek specific methods to develop musical drama as a form.