1st Edition

Finding Identity Through Directing

By Soseh Yekanians Copyright 2020
    124 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    124 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    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



    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


    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.