The aim of the thesis is to develop an apparatus of theory and method for performance analysis, the purpose of which is to analyse potentials for experiences of transcendence. These experiences are contextualised in terms of the metaphysical, the religious, and the spiritual. The theoretical basis is a combination of Erika Fischer-Lichte’s the aesthetics of the performative and Dorthe Jørgensen’s metaphysics of experience. In the development of the theoretical discussion, a variety of experiences is explored in the context of contemporary theatre, ritual, and installation art in Sweden, Denmark, and Aotearoa New Zealand. The dissertation contributes to the methodology of performance analysis as it emphasises experience as research, and to the interdisciplinary research field of performance, religion, and spirituality, as it draws on theatre and performance studies, philosophical aesthetics, philosophy of religion, theology, sociology, and anthropology.
The result is a practical model that allows the analysis of experiences of transcendence as created in the staged event through the complex interplay of material properties of staging and cognitive capacities for experience in the spectator’s or congregant’s process of reception – all of which are conditioned by the event’s contexts.
Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen is Researcher in Theater Studies at the University of Sweden.
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