Når leken slår tilbake: en undersøkelse av teater på lekens premisser i to improviserte forestillinger for barn
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Keywords: Improvisational theatre, Play, Keith Johnstone, Scenic Play, children’s theatre, Improvisation for children, performance analysis, Theatre for children devised on the principles of play. The art of improvisation is the art of creating something here and now. It’s fun, spontaneous and, at it’s best, a life-affirming activity. As a form of entertainment, improvisation was introduced to Norway in the late nineteen eighties and the early nineteen nineties, and has since then become very popular, especially in cities like Trondheim and Oslo spawning numerous improvisation troupes. In the middle of the last decade, the first improvised shows for children were performed at Latter in Oslo. These shows incited further exploration of improvisational shows for children and an increasing number of groups devised similar performances. This master thesis seeks to investigate the relatively new phenomenon of improvisation for children and their connection to the world of play. I do this by looking at two performances: Hva kommer nå…? by famed singer Eldbjørg Raknes and improviser Frode Eggen, and Lekene slår tilbake by Isenkramteatret. Both troupes produce performances for children with improvisation as their most important tool. My research topic is thus: Improvisational theatre for children on the principles of play, a study of the playful meeting between improviser and audience, with a focus on personal style, aesthetic methods and narrative structures. The thesis opens with an attempt of positioning the field of improvisation internationally and nationally, historically and as a way of performance. I use a reflective empirical method in my research, and my epistemological perspective is social-constructivism. My empirical data is complied from observations, documents and interviews. My main methodology has been case studies in which I analyze two improvisational performances. I use a theoretical framework from the disciplines of play and improvisational theatre. I thus approach the topic of play from three distinct perspectives: Play as a way of being, play and philosophy, and play and aesthetics. These three approaches each contain a scholarly tradition; useful in understanding the playful meeting that occurs between the audience and the performer in improvisational performances for children. In the chapter on improvisation I further investigate Keith Johnstone's improvisational methodology (storytelling), improvisation as an intertextual system, improvisation and quality, and lastly a way of making performance analysis for improvised theatre. In the two case studies I firstly present each troupe before I do an analysis based on the categories defined in my research topic. Based on the theoretical framework and the analyses of the two performances I am confident that I can formulate a new general theory for improvisational theatre. I will also demonstrate the emergence of a new category of play – the concept of scenic play, which exists somewhere in between theatre and play.