Performer Science is an autonomous research project which promotes science as a key to personal creative growth.
The basic idea is that all scientific practices build upon basic abilities such as memory, distinction, relationship, comparison, prediction, experiment and measurement, which we all use in everyday life. By questioning and becoming more aware of the way we are organized as living human beings we can seek to develop these basic abilities and hence face the challenges and opportunities which arise in the diverse contexts of our lives with enhanced creativity.
The idea of Performer Science matured over the past few years of my practical and theoretical research into the education of the theatre actor as an individual and autonomous creative artist. I soon realized that training and acquiring basic performance skills were of course important but not sufficient for the performer to develop his/her creativity. As Stanislavski and Meyerhold had diversely pointed out already at the beginning of the 20th century, the creative actor needed to work as a scientist, systematically studying and experimenting with the organization of the human being and human interactions in a performative situation.
A very complex body or system of relationships indeed. How is such matter organized? What are its limits, its binds or constraints? To what extent are these constraints fixed or dynamic? What changes can I bring about in this organization? What kind of experiments can I devise in order to sound its creative potential? We are looking at a corpus which is made up of plural, living elements engaged in dynamic interaction.
Complexity theories have helped me look at how these elements may work together, but also enabled me to face the intricacy of interactions at play by distinguishing between levels of organization. The cognitive sciences have provided me with interesting perspectives onto possible links between the largely invisible biological level and the more evident psychological, sociological and cultural levels of performative processes. All of these perspectives inform and are informed by research undertaken especially in performance practices fueled by questions related to the actor’s pedagogy. In its specificity as an individual process of autonomous, scientific and creative growth, the actor’s pedagogy offers an important context for the investigation of knowing, learning and creativity.
The theoretical perspectives and research tools at our disposal are indeed plural. Hence Performer Science promotes dialogue and joint investigations between researchers coming from different fields of inquiry, rejecting the still widespread divide between Science and Art, between theory and practice.
Among the important sources of inspiration for Performer Science there is the work of Jerzy Grotowski, who regarded the Performer as «man of knowledge».
The image I chose as a symbol for Performer Science is drawn from Grotowski’s remarks on the Perfomer (1990):
«It can be read in ancient texts: We are two. The bird who picks and the bird who looks on … to be double … to be passive in action and active in seeing (reversing the habit). Passive: to be receptive. Active: to be present».
This image, which Grotowski took from the Upanishads, for Performer Science reflects the importance of a dual approach to personal creative growth, one which marries theory and practice. Within its scope, Performer Science encourages people especially to become more receptive and present, in response to the blind performativity which sustains the pervasive crisis afflicting present day societies. Performer Science is also an invitation: stop suffering the crisis, be your crisis!
Victor E. Jacono