This Performance Research investigation begins with concerns about how binary concepts such as mind/body, subject/object, and conscious/unconscious limit our capacity to gain a more appropriate and precise understanding of artistic creativity. In this project I lay out an alternative philosophical background to examine and interpret artists’ experiences of creativity. I then turn to performance practice to apply, experiment, distil, perform, and articulate how the fundamental structures of life, as originally put forward by Charles Darwin (1859) and expanded upon by Henri Bergson (1946/1992), are implicated in processes of artistic creativity.
To achieve this, I embrace an immersive and evolutionary account of the human condition. I build on the work of Elizabeth Grosz, translating her application of Darwin, Bergson, Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze in her ontologies of becoming into a framework for performance practice. Utilising concepts of life within this theoretical lineage, I put forward a performance ontology of becoming that conceptualises lived experience as a fundamentally creative process, intertwined with worlds and pushed by the generative forces of life. I synthesise Bergson’s and Merleau-Ponty’s respective fundamental concepts of life and wild Being to isolate a new phenomenon which I claim is the basis of creativity. I term this phenomenon wild life.
In this thesis, I describe how the phenomenon of wild life is revealed and activated in artistic performance practice through processes of accessing experience differently. Accessing experience differently is achieved by: attuning-to visceral phenomena; focusing in-between things; embodying sensory metaphors; and imagining immersive conditions. I examine the ways I have applied this performance ontology of becoming in the development of an original contemporary theatre performance called ‘Imagine This . . .’ that I performed at the Abbotsford Convent in April 2016. I claim that the performance and written work presented in this project accounts for how the fundamental structures of life operate in service of artistic creativity in a theatre performance context.