DMCA2022: Löfgren: Depictions as interactionally achieved local performances at opera rehearsals

At the online Digital Meeting for Conversation Analysis, Oct. 31st-Nov. 4th 2022, Löfgren presented on “Depictions as interactionally achieved local performances at opera rehearsals”.


During opera rehearsals, participants often position their bodies in different ways to visually demonstrate what they could do on stage to portray their characters. Similarly, they use their voices to depict fragments from the music, song or to report the thoughts of their characters. These visuo-kinetic and vocal-auditory embodied behaviors can be conceived of as depictions – scenes in the here-and-now interaction to represent there-and-then physically displaced scenes (Clark, 2016). Depictions are a central work tool during scenic opera rehearsals to create dramatic actions, coordinate them with music and negotiate the aesthetics of the opera performance.

While the director is ultimately responsible for the aesthetics of the opera performance, this paper targets how the performers contribute to the creative process by proposing dramatic actions during the rehearsals – and how depictions serve as tools do so. Previous research has shown how recipients to depictions participate in, and show affiliation with, the depicted scene through co-animations (Cantarutti, 2020). This paper shows how performers prepare for depictions through physical reconfigurations that increase the relative distance to the participants that are being positioned as intended spectators of the depiction – assuring proper visibility of the upcoming depiction. In response to these initial physical reconfigurations, the other participants similarly physically reconfigure to either spectators to or co-actors in the depiction. The initiating physical reconfigurations thus serve to recruit the other participants to the upcoming depiction, and through the responsive physical reconfigurations the other participants facilitate both the performer’s depiction and  proposal. The paper argues that depictions can be conceived of as collaboratively created local performances – art deployed for interactional and creative purposes.


Cantarutti, M. N. (2020) The Multimodal and Sequential Design of Co-Animation as a Practice for Association in English Interaction. PhD thesis, University of York.

Clark, H. H. (2016). Depicting as a method of communication. Psychological Review, 123 (3)

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