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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Dramatic actors and the nature of role taking experiences Osborne, Jane M.


Dramatic principles and techniques have been used extensively in counselling and psychology in an attempt to understand and assist individuals with their emotional and psychological difficulties. A central element in drama is the forming of a character. The actual experience of the actor in character has been little explored in what it might have to offer to the realm of psychology and the understanding of human experience. This study aims to address this question through an investigation of the experiences of professional actors who have been personally affected by roles they have played. Using a qualitative research design, ten professional actors were interviewed and asked to describe in detail their experiences of being personally affected by dramatic roles. From these interviews significant statements have been extracted and interwoven into a narrative analysis. The concept of a dialectic was found to be effective in increasing understanding of the relationship between actor and character. Within this dialectical framework, five central themes were found to capture the nature of the acting experiences as described by the actors interviewed. The findings were also found to have implications for the areas of theatre and psychological theory, and for existing drama-based therapies.

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