Finding Identity Through Directing  book cover
1st Edition

Finding Identity Through Directing

ISBN 9780367490843
Published March 11, 2021 by Routledge
124 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Finding Identity through Directing is a practice-led autoethnographical monograph that provides an in-depth exploration into the field of theatre directing and an individual’s endless creative pursuit for belonging. The book specifically examines how a culturally displaced individual may find a sense of identity through their directing and addresses the internal struggles of belonging, acceptance and Self that are often experienced by those who have confronted cultural unhoming. The first half of the story scrutinises Dr Yekanians’ own identity as an Iranian born Armenian-Australian and how she struggled with belonging growing up in a world that for the most part, was unaccepting of her differences. The second half, looks at how theatre directing, aided her (re)discovery of Self. While evidence shows that within the past decade there has been a growing interest in the vocation of theatre directing, embarking on a career within this field, while exciting, can often be a daunting and experimental vocation.

Finding Identity through Directing questions this conundrum and specifically asks, in a competitive artistic profession that is rapidly developing, what attracts an individual to the authoritative role of the director and what are the underlying motivations of this attraction? By uncovering that there is more to the role of the director than the mere finality of a production, we can observe that the theatre is a promising setting for cultural exchanges in dialogue and for personal development. Theatre directing as the vehicle for these expansions and progressions of self can potentially address the internal struggles of identity often experienced by those who, in some form, have encountered cultural displacement.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Acknowledgments IV

Introduction 1

Field of Study 1

Structure of the Book 6

Methodology 7

Practice-led Research 8

Tacit Knowledge 9

Autoethnography and Reflexivity 11

The Interviews 13

In Summary 14

References 15

Chapter One: Attracted to Theatre 18

Setting the Scene 18

Prologue 18

The Essence of Theatre 19

Theatre as a Social Construct *3

The Theatre and Me 26

References 31

Chapter Two: Seeking Identity 33

Searching for Self 33

Identifying Identity 33

What’s in a Home? 42

Belonging and Displacement 47

Flirting with the "Unhomely" and the "In-Between" 49

The Other 52

References 58

Chapter Three: Affinity with Armenia, a Narrative in Two Parts 62

Part I What Went Before 62

Birth of a Nation 62

The Beginnings of the Invaders 65

The Armenian Genocide 66

The Republic of Armenia Today 71

My Voyage from a Dream to Reality 72

September 2008 72

Part II The Journey Back 76

September 2014 75

A New Armenia or a New Me? 78

References 87

Chapter Four: Dating Directing 90

Deconstructing Directing 90

Background 90

Collaborative Research through the Kitchen Sink Collective 95

Turning Points in the Research 98

Moment One 98

Moment Two 100

To Be or Not to Be 102

Homing versus Belonging 104

The Director’s Journey 109

Immersion into the Practice of Directing 112

No Worries and Uncle Jack 112

Background 112

Stereotype, Defamiliarisation and Difference 115

References 128

Conclusion 131

Final Thoughts 138

Appendices 140

Appendices 1 140

1.1 Interview Questions from Phase 1 140

1.2 Interview Questions from Phase 2 143

1.3 Full list of theatre directors interviewed 145

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Dr Soseh Yekanians is a senior lecturer in Theatre Media at Charles Sturt University. While her research focuses on understandings of Self, belonging and identity formation with specific reference to theatre directing, she is also fascinated with how theatre and the performing arts more generally, can speak to an individual’s sense of displacement. Dr Yekanians hopes that with more research on how cultural stereotypes manifest in individuals through the pressures of society and how these stereotypes are performed via theatrical representations onstage, performance as a cultural phenomenon can begin to break down harmful stereotypes and offer cross-cultural exchanges that develop and empower people’s (re)discovery of identity offstage.