Musicality in Spoken Theatre

Fiction, Metaphor, Dispositif



Musicality, acting, spoken theatre, intermedial conceptual loan, metaphor, fiction, dispositif


The purpose of this article is to address issues of artistic knowledge and artistic learning by way of studying, through a concrete exemplification, the meanings and implications of linguistic metaphor in artistic and educational conceptualizations of spoken theatre. Professional artists and pedagogues in this field habitually use the concept of musicality to point to key qualities in actors’ artistic work and learning processes. This article aims at a presentation, problematization and discussion of the findings of a recent extensive investigation into this usage. In order to attain this, the article is structured in six sections: an introductory presentation of (i) metaphorical language in learning processes and of (ii) the concept of musicality in the field of theatre; (iii) an overview of historical relations between music and theatre; (iv) a literature review of previous musicality research of relevance to the present topic; (v) a summary of a recent interview investigation into how Swedish theatre professionals view the meaning(s) of musicality in acting; and (vi) a problematization and discussion of the findings of that study, pointing to how this intermedial conceptual loan may be interpreted as a fiction, a metaphor, or a dispositif.

Author Biography

Sven Bjerstedt, Lund University

Sven Bjerstedt (b. 1962) holds a PhD in music education research and is Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts at Lund University, Sweden. He is also a jazz pianist and a senior lecturer in music at Malmö Theatre Academy (Lund University). Bjerstedt’s PhD thesis (2014) was a study of storytelling in the field of jazz improvisation, and his recent book, Skådespelarens musikalitet (2017), examines musicality in the field of spoken theatre.