When a script stipulates actions, gestural routines and mental models for a character that
clash with the personal values of the actor, it creates dissonance between what the actor (as
person) believes, represents or feels, and that which the character (as fictional construct) is
interpreted to represent. This dissonance may negatively impact on the believability of the
actor inhabiting the ‘as if’ world of the character, or stifle actor engagement with the fictional
world. This study proposes a theoretical approach to navigating this potentially performance-
restricting dissonance through a cross-disciplinary approach that draws on various disciplines,
theories and models. It includes, but is not limited to embodiment, Neuro-Linguistic
Programming, Multi-Level Neuro Processing and exposure strategies.
Habitual patterning, personal restrictions, behaviours, values, socio-cultural and politico-
historical paradigms, socialisation, cognitive dissonance, impulse avoidances and others are
subjectively sculpted and embodied in and through lived experiences. In articulating this
approach, the study places emphasis on practical guiding and enabling of the actor to manage
these embodied and lived experiences, personal values and subjective restrictions in relation
to performance material that the actor perceives to be challenging and uncomfortable.
This study aims to facilitate ways to navigate actor-character dissonance, whilst remaining
sensitive to actors and their respective processes in engaging with, and depicting, a character
in a competent and believable manner. Instead of forcing actors to work through restrictions
or preventing talented actors from auditioning or participating in a production due to their
seemingly unmanageable dissonances and bodyminded non-consent, this study argues for
possible solutions to manage contradictory values and stances respectfully, through a
multilayered and multidisciplined process.
This empirical study was located in a qualitative research paradigm, using qualitative
methodologies. The intervention design was based on existing scholarship, as reflected in
chapters two to five. To limit the scope of the study, the focus was on nudity and the intimacy surrounding nudity in performance. The study used action research to strategise, implement
and reflect on the practical intervention strategy. Data collection took place through practice-
based experiences and observations. The research process was realised in three phases
ranging from private to semi-public, to explore the hypothetical strategy with a selection of
trained male actors. The research phases are discussed in chapters one and six. Phase one
consisted of three one-on-one conversation-based coaching sessions calibrating and
unpacking the participants’ thinking, perspectives, perceived consequences and limiting
beliefs regarding performance-based nudity. Phase two was an optional phase and
participants volunteered to engage in this phase after completing phase one. This phase
consisted of a three-day workshop, implementing and embodying the tailored research
techniques and strategies to alleviate discomforts regarding performance-based nudity.
Phase three was another optional phase. Here, the intervention strategy was applied to text.
A new play was written specifically for these purposes, entitled Love, and how? This play
offered an array of actions which challenged the actors’ subjective and unique discomforts.
The purpose of this challenge was to assess the hypothetical facilitation strategy in a real-life
simulation of a professional rehearsal process, culminating in two closed performances.
The qualitative findings of this study conclude that the integration of these multidisciplinary
processes aid the actors in alleviating tension and approaching dissonance in performance
with increased control and nuanced acting. In addition, they introduced mid-performance
coping mechanisms, derived from these processes, thus enabling the actor to continue to