The Doctoral School of Theater and Performing Arts from Iași formulates its identity through the complementary approach of theoretical and practical research directions. Even though Hans Thies Lehmann challenges us to accept that: “Theatre is a problematic word, involving a wide range of forms, materials and spaces. That is why it always needs to be defined in such a way as to reveal the included assumptions that its use contains”, the rigor of the doctoral approach is accompanied by the restlessness of creativity, the “theoretical circumscription” of the forms of performance – contemporary, classical or traditional – joining (most of the time) the experiment, without excluding, however, the theoretical studies of theater or performance, equally focused on the demands of conceptual boundaries and the academic freedom of original interpretations.
In this context, the establishment of clear rules of institutional organization and structuring of the doctoral thesis provides a safety framework; The Code of Doctoral Studies, the Internal Regulations, the Study Contract or the Doctoral Thesis Drafting Guide can be perceived as working tools, which allow connection to the current standards of research in the field, without limiting creative thinking. In fact, all this proves that the whole course is centered on the valorization, development and affirmation of the potential of each doctoral student, of the spectacular forms/themes of debate that he proposes.
According to the 2008 OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms, proposed by UNESCO, research is defined as “any systematic creative activity undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge about humanity, culture and society, and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications “. The concept of artistic research, although it (still) generates multiple polemics, does not deviate from this understanding; the need to create connections between art and research determines the application of scientific work methods based on inter/ transdisciplinarity.
The aptitude and attitude of the doctoral student constitute the foundation on which the strategies are conceived; the choice and application of working methods are adapted to the results targeted by each grant and to the specifics of the subfield in which it falls: history of theater and performing arts, performance, theatrology, art pedagogy, theatrical experiment, etc. Each sub-domain has a specific algorithm for concretizing the objective path/hypothesis – method – result. Although the stages of application will have different weights and dynamics, the working techniques will always be based on creativity; documentation, archiving, analysis, interpretation, comparative studies, experimentation, conceptual reformulations – involve intuition, reflection, questioning of canonical systems. Artistic experience (from the classical or performance area) does not exclude the state of reflection, but, on the contrary, includes it, as a necessary stage. The analysis of the creative process, based on inner knowledge/stage experience, represents a possible strength, through which the transition from descriptive to applicative models will be made, determined by the adoption of a different perspective, by getting out of the “square”. Thus, the training/development of creativity appears as a natural and necessary first stage, also anticipated by master’s studies. But, the recombination of information requires knowledge and a deep understanding of it, an aspect confirmed by numerous theses completed within our Doctoral School, through the elements of novelty and the added value offered, generated by the summation of the skills of doctoral students in the field of scenic creation, with those in the analytical field.
The limited time and space of the doctoral research determines the predominant approach of qualitative techniques: case studies, personal experiences, introspection, interviews, inventory/analysis of artefacts, texts and performances, leading to the “bricolage” method, often used in the field of sciences humanistic. The methodological aspects cannot work in isolation, therefore they will be corroborated with those of an ethical and attitudinal nature, which lead the PhD student to the need to develop teamwork skills, but also those related to project management; we note in this sense the role of time management, knowledge of leadership principles and self-knowledge (awareness of strengths and weaknesses). Artistic research (as well as artistic production) requires, especially in the experimental stages, the existence of a team, which will be involved in the project, most of the time, on a voluntary basis, which leads us to the necessity of accepting the proposed norms. Contemporary technologies offer the chance to use virtual partners as well, by accessing international databases; Research Catalogue, Society for Artistic Research, FQS are just three of the many possibilities of connecting to a community animated by similar anxieties.
And yet, knowing the principles that govern the research and the specific contents of the theme cannot generate a stable structure, without a well-defined axis of promoted values. The PhD student and the coordinator embark on a journey at the end of which they will give the guild (and not only) more knowledge; only the acceptance of the same non-negotiable values can lead them to pay the price of time, energy and involvement in supporting a project in which cognition and emotional perception are difficult to separate. Artistic research cannot only be reported and evaluated, it is… lived.