Studies from German-speaking Europe
Use of speech and prosody in Composed Theatre
This paper provides an introductory overview of the use of prosody in experimental theatrical performance. This study is part of a larger research project on the production and perception of speech in the avant-garde, experimental Composed Theatre (CT). The reason for studying this type of performance is, first, because there is a demand from CT analysts to know more about the use of speech and phonetic characteristics in CT and second, because its extraordinary, highly variable use of speech and voice raises a number of interesting issues about the functions of prosody and other elements of speech in theatrical performances, in particular in CT. The aim of this paper is to describe what the performers are doing with their voices, namely, what prosodic strategies they use in order to transmit meaning and how these strategies differ from everyday speech. Our data show that CT performers often deconstruct speech to its elements, such as phones, intonation and rhythm and reconstruct them in various ways that differ from normal speech.
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