Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Hall, Ann C.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Harris, Jr, Albert J.

Committee Member

Allen, Annette

Committee Member

Dietrich, Julia

Author's Keywords

acting; creativity; SITI; flow; performance; steel hammer


This dissertation is a case study of New York’s Saratoga International Training Institute (known as SITI Company), one of the most innovative American theatre companies of the last twenty-five years. Research for this study was based in part on the author’s experience with the work of SITI throughout those years, including participation in intensive training with the company and observations of rehearsal and performance of the 2014 world premiere production of Steel Hammer at the Humana Festival of New American Plays, at Actors Theatre of Louisville. SITI Company is defined by their dedication to actor training, and to a democratic structure of collaboration in which actors, directors, playwrights, and designers are all full collaborators in the creative work of the company. While SITI is known for its postmodern productions of devised theatre, the company’s development of three unique training methods – Suzuki, Viewpoints, and Composition –is the most significant element of their artistic legacy. Taught and practiced in combination, these methods give the actor new ways to approach theatrical embodiment by developing skills based on kinesthetic response, stage presence, and creative collaboration. This approach to making theatre frees actors from the emotional and psychologically-based practices of American Method training, and grounds them in a physical presence that transcends genre and style. The work of SITI Company serves as an ideal platform for considering the work of the actor within the larger framework of creativity theory research, which sometimes emphasizes the concept of “new-ness,” raising questions about the value of the creative contributions of artists who “interpret” rather than “invent,” such as orchestral musicians, ballet dancers, and actors. New research in collaborative creativity broadens our understanding of the work of actors, who always work in collaboration, including taking part in the creative relationship between the actor and the audience. This dissertation uses the intersection of creativity theory, performance theory, sports theory, the dynamics of creative collaboration, and the training methods of SITI Company as a means of analyzing the experience of “flow,” wherein self-consciousness falls away, perceptions of time disappear, and actions seem to happen without effort. The conditions for finding flow are based in skills that can be learned and implemented by the actor in training, rehearsal, and performance.