The Theatre and Performance Research Group is concerned with research into all forms of performance, both historical and contemporary. Our research-active staff are currently involved in a variety of projects. Some of what we do impinges on other cultural forms (such the novel, film, fine art) while some of it is “purely” theatrical.
Our research specialisms cut across several overlapping areas, and while colleagues continue to pursue a diverse range of projects, a few key themes have emerged over the years. These include
Dramatic literature: texts, contexts and analyses
Historically, the Theatre and Performance Research Group grew, for the most part, out of Loughborough’s Department of English and Drama – one of the first of its kind in the country. It is not surprising, then, that a key area of our expertise focuses on the dramatic text. Our members include both textual analysts and textual editors of classic and contemporary dramatic works, ranging from Goldsmith to Tennessee Williams, from Shakespeare to Martin McDonagh, from the classical to the avant-garde. Members of the Research Group are also playwrights and theatre-makers in their own right, writing and staging plays and performances for stage, radio and site-specific venues and events.
Theatre, performance and society
Colleagues in the Theatre and Performance Research Group have explored a range of issues concerning the various ways in which theatre and performance relate to key social issues. Gender has always been an important item on Loughborough’s research agenda, and researchers have published a range of books and articles on feminist theatre and on theatre and masculinity. Other issues of social and personal identity have also formed a focus of our work: in particular race, age, nationhood and the public sphere. Members of the group are also actively exploring ways in which an understanding of narrative and performance may help to address some of the major challenges facing society today.
The Research Group has a strong interest in the relationship between theatre and popular culture. This includes at times mediated performance (film, television, and multimedia performance) but the main focus is on the live event. Popular performance in this sense is performance that is rooted in the present moment, that sets up a direct connection between performer and audience and allows the audience to take an active role in the performance. With this in mind, research group members explore the meanings and significance of popular forms ranging from late nineteenth-century Grand Guignol plays to the history of conjuring, from Mexican street performances to puppet shows, and from storytelling to standup comedy.
The Research Group is involved in a very wide range of individual projects (see individual research pages for details). Two of the multidisciplinary and multi-institutional collaborative projects on which Research Group colleagues are currently working are detailed below.
We are involved in a number of initiatives that look at the role of storytelling in today’s digital world and how it might be applied to bring new voices into the public debate around major challenges facing society. The work has grown out of Professor Mike Wilson’s long-standing research into various aspects of storytelling and, in particular, Project ASPECT, a major AHRC-funded project, in collaboration with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, that explored the potential of digital storytelling to support wider public engagement in the climate change conversation. Current threads in this project area include: ‘LIDA: Loneliness in the Digital Age’, (funded by ESRC) exploring the uses of technology and storytelling to support those vulnerable to bouts of episodic loneliness; ‘Digital Dialogues’, which explores the value of creative interventions to support the concept of mutual recovery in the field of mental health; and ‘DRY; Drought Resilience and You’, a four-year project, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, seeking to develop a community-based narrative resource for drought planning. For further details contact Mike Wilson.
Performance and Wellbeing
Overlapping in part with some of the aspects of the digital storytelling strand, our researchers are also exploring ways in which theatre and performance may contribute to health and well-being. Starting with considerations of theatre and ageing, the performance and well-being project has developed into a wider response to the universal recognition that transformational change in healthcare is needed. Understanding the role of culture in health, well-being and healthcare provision will be central to a successful shift. At present the latter is poorly prepared to respond to the so-called ‘silver tsunami’ of an ageing population, and the accompanying chronic conditions (which rarely manifest as single illnesses: most people have multiple conditions). Reimagining the future of healthcare is a significant challenge - but one that the Arts and Humanities are well placed to shape and inform. For further details contact Mick Mangan.
Mary Brewer, Staging Whiteness, Wesleyan University Press
Mary Brewer, ‘Battling the Legions of the Ungodly: Alternative American Drama and the Vietnam War’, Comparative American Studies, 9 (2011), 35-54
Mary Brewer, ‘Offerings on the Altar of National Pride: Pioneer Plays and American Identity’, Studies in Theatre and Performance, 31 (2011): 243-58
Bob Brocklehurst, ‘Scratching BAC’, video (Prague Quadrennial)
Bob Brocklehurst, Excessive Narratives: Georges Bataille, Self-Sacrifice & the Communal Language of the Yucatec Maya (ISBN 0-9551829-4-8)
Bob Brocklehust and Dan Watt Performance Research, 15:1 Special Number ‘Memento Mori’
Mick Mangan, Performing Dark Arts: a Cultural History of Conjuring (Intellect Press and Chicago University Press),
Mick Mangan, Staging Ageing (Intellect Press and Chicago University Press)
Mick Mangan, Sarah Goldingay, Paul Dieppe and Deborah Marsden, ‘(Re)acting medicine: applying theatre in order to develop a whole-systems approach to understanding the healing response’, Research in Drama Education, 19: 3 pp. 272-279.
Catherine Rees, Representing Acceptability: Power, Violence and Satire in Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore’, in Performing Violence in Contemporary Ireland, ed. by Lisa Fitzpatrick (Carysfort), pp. 85-103
Catherine Rees (ed.), Changes in Contemporary Ireland: Texts and Contexts (Cambridge Scholars’ Press)
Catherine Rees, ‘Sarah Kane’, in Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s, ed. by Aleks Sierz (Methuen), pp. 112-37
Carolyn Scott-Jeffs 21 Conversations with a Hairdresser (radio-play), BBC Radio 4
Carolyn Scott-Jeffs, Jesus, The Devil and a Kid Called Death (radio-play), BBC Radio 4
Carolyn Scott-Jeffs, 15 Ways to Leave your Lover (radio-play), BBC Radio 4
Dan Watt, ‘Edmond Jabes: Double Exile and the Uncanny Fragment'’, in The Poetics of Shadows: The Double in Literature and Philosophy, ed. by Andrew Hock Soon Ng (Ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart), pp 17-34
Dan Watt , ‘Performing, Strolling, Thinking: From Minor Literature to Theatre of the Future’, in Deleuze and Performance, ed. by Laura Cull (EUP), pp. 91-102
Dan Watt, Ethical Encounters (co-editor) (Cambridge Scholars Press)
Mike Wilson, (with Richard J. Hand) London’s Grand-‐Guignol and the Theatre of Horror, ‘Studies in Performance’ Series, University of Exeter Press (Shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize)
Mike Wilson, Luzel’s Folk Tales of Lower Brittany (translated texts with critical introduction), ‘Fairy-‐Tale Studies’ series, Wayne State University Press (forthcoming)
Mike Wilson ‘Discussing the Weather: Digital Stories, Communities and the Climate Change Conversation’ (with Karen Lewis), Proceedings of the People and the Planet 2013 Conference, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia
Nigel Wood, ‘Civic Humanism’: Said, Brecht, and Coriolanus’, in Towards a New Literary Humanism, ed. by Andy Mousley (Macmillan), pp. 212-27
Nigel Wood , ‘The Official and Unofficial Spleen’, Le Spectateur Européen: Figures et Cultures, ed. by Clark Lawlor, pp. 129-41
Nigel Wood, ‘Goldsmith’s English Malady’, Studies in the Literary Imagination, 44.1, 63-83
Mary Brewer, Bob Brocklehurst, Lee Campbell, Johanna Hallsten, Antonia Liguori, Mick Mangan, Tim Miles, Catherine Rees, Carolyn Scott-Jeffs, Mike Wilson, Dan Watt, Nigel Wood.
Amir Andwari (Shakespeare, Kristeva and Ovid)
Lyndsey Bakewell (Restoration theatre and ‘spectacle’)
Michael Pinchbeck (Contemporary dramaturgy: practice-based)
Daniel Tyler (Shakespearean adaptation: practice-based)
Virginie Ganivet (The English Mr Punch)
Susan Hennessey (Beckett and Phenomenology)
Caroline Astell-Burt (Otome-bunraku puppetry: practice-based)
Myfanwyn Ryan (Women and performance: practice-based)
Reaching | Outreaching
Loughborough University London, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E15
Room LND 1.04
9 June 2018, 11am-5:30pm
The language of ‘outreach’ shapes conversation on university and artistic life, from ‘strategic visions’ to arts council applications. But what does it mean to reach out? What is the discourse on outreach as a gesture – an act and effect?
In this day-long workshop, the TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy working group aims to think together about gesture, site, institutional politics and the labour of reaching. We will ask: what does it mean to imagine a cultural sphere from which reaching takes place? How are we implicated in cultivating intellectual and creative spaces and ties that fail again and again to bind, to shift – to query the form of these structures of ‘outreach’? If public impact is meant to ‘change’ those with whom our work comes into contact, how do we analyse and eventually reclaim the dramaturgy of this encounter?
Situated in the newly built Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, an area of urban ‘regeneration’ that has become a cultural hub for major dance companies, start-up cafés and more, the workshop endeavours to reimagine and rearticulate the cultural economies and landscape ecologies that inform our intellectual and artistic practices, querying how political/policy environments shape the way we think and make our work ‘public’. The workshop aims to lay groundwork for further manifestations of these institutional choreopolitics – welcome to all.
10.45-11.00 Registration and coffee
11.00-11.30 Welcome and opening remarks/provocations: Kélina Gotman, Fred Dalmasso and Daniela Perazzo Domm
11.30-12.30 Critical practice: Owen G. Parry and Johanna Linsley, “A Performance Hangout”
12.30-1.45 Lunch (details tbc)
1.45-2:30 Choreographic works 1: Sivan Rubinstein, “MAPS”
2.30-3.15 Choreographic works 2: Rita Marcalo/Instant Dissidence, “Perambulating Dance”
3.45-4.30 Writing/Performance: Sofia Rodrigues Boito, “Community and collaborative theater”
4.30-5.30 Roundtable discussion: Diana Damian Martin, Arabella Stanger, Nik Wakefield, with Kélina Gotman and Daniela Perazzo Domm
All are welcome!
The workshop is free for students, independent practitioners and unaffiliated academics. We kindly request participants on full salaries to contribute £10 towards catering costs.
To register, please follow this link: https://store.lboro.ac.uk/conferences-and-events/school-of-the-arts-english-and-drama/upcoming-eventssymposiums/tapra
All participants should be current members of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA). You can register at a discounted rate for £10, either on the day or (preferably) here: http://tapra.org/join-tapra/ (“interim event only”).
Notes on participants
Owen G. Parry is an artist and researcher working across performance cultures on subjects including trash, biopolitics, gay sex, fandom, fascism and Yoko Ono. The performance hangout is a mode of theatre which uses live fictioning, altered duration, non-productivity and “being together” as a means of interrogating the blurring of work and leisure under neoliberalism, the co-option of avant-garde tactics by the fascist right, and the corporate imperative “to participate”. It’s been developed for the four-hour performance fic.the.sky, commissioned by Fierce Festival, Birmingham 2017.
Johanna Linsley (University of Roehampton) is an artist, writer and researcher. She is a founding partner of UnionDocs, a centre for documentary arts in Brooklyn, NY, and a co-founder of the London-based live art domestic partnership, I'm With You. Her current research project “Acts of Assembly” (funded by Leverhulme Trust) examines the face-to-face meeting as a social genre.
Sivan Rubinstein is an Israeli choreographer and researcher based in London. Over the last two years, she has been researching and exploring migration and mapping through the forms of dance, visual arts and music. This became a system of movement that, like a language, moves through time and space. MAPS is a research and dance project which looks at the constantly changing nature of the world. It includes the audience-participation performance Active Maps.
Rita Marcalo is an independent artist whose socially-engaged choreographic practice brings different artists together, in different combinations, to realise different ideas. Her company, Instant Dissidence, invents ways of offering other people art experiences. Her latest project, One Last Dance, is a two-stage perambulating dance between Guildford (the first city Rita lived in when she arrived in the UK as an Erasmus student in 1994) and Cloughjordan (the rural Irish village where she is relocating post-Brexit).
Sofia Rodrigues Boito is a performer, playwright and researcher interested in artistic creation in a hybrid field. Sofia’s work unfolds in collective creations, including through theatre performances with adolescents. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Sofia is a PhD candidate in performative writing (University of São Paulo) and is currently developing an artistic residence in Cité Interanationale des Arts, Paris.
Diana Damian Martin (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) is a writer, critic, curator and academic. Her work is concerned with experimental criticism, writing as performance, performance and political philosophy, and politically-engaged performance and live art.
Arabella Stanger (University of Sussex) is an academic whose interests reach across dance, theatre and performance, with an emphasis on the theoretical exploration of performance as social practice.
Nik Wakefield (University of Portsmouth) is a researcher, artist and writer working mostly in performance but also across dance, theatre and visual art. His research is concerned with theoretical issues of time and ecology in contemporary performance and art practices.
Kélina Gotman (King’s College London), Fred Dalmasso (Loughborough University) and Daniela Perazzo Domm (Kingston University London) co-convene the TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy working group.
Stages of Utopia and Dissent
19 May 2018, Loughborough University London, UK
Stages of Utopia and Dissent is a one-day conference organised by the Theatre and Performance Research Group at Loughborough University
The Politicized Practice/Anarchist/Theatre and Performance Research Groups are working together on a number of initiatives, including a collectively curated exhibition Re-imagining Citizenship (plus themed in-conversation event with artist Tania Bruguera at 1pm Monday 12th June) at Radar’s gallery space which will form part of the Arts and Humanities Festival in June 2018. We are also working on an event around ‘nationhood’ for 2018/19 (linking to Institute of Advanced Studies forthcoming theme) and a series of funding bids relating to alternative/critical perspectives on citizenship.
If you are interested in discussing, getting involved or contributing in any way to the work of the groups or to our current projects and research initiatives, please come along to any of our research seminars and/or planning meetings. All are welcome.
PPRG/ARG/TPRG Research seminars/events:
Wednesday 25 April 2018, 1pm-3pm – Martin Hall MHL117a/b
What does Citizenship mean in the 21st century? Protest, papers, politics
Dr Nina Power, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy University of Roehampton, London
This talk will example the technical and activist definitions of citizenship in relation to the possibility of protest, belonging and precarity. How do these elements combine and pull apart when we think about questions of asylum, public debate and the freedom
of assembly? Drawing on philosophy, politics and law, this paper will suggest that we need to understand citizenship as a constant set of antagonistic relations.
Nina Power teaches Philosophy at the University of Roehampton andis the author of multiple articles on politics, culture, philosophy andfeminism. She is a founding member of Defend the Right to Protest, a campaign group set up in the the wake of the student protests of late 2010/early 2011 in opposition to the harsh police tactics and criminalisation of protesters that occurred on these and subsequent protests. She is a corresponding editor for Historical Materialism and is on the organising committee for Marxism in Culture. She writes for many magazines and newspapers, including The Wire, frieze, Strike! and The Guardian.
Wednesday 22 November 2017, 12.00pm || Martin Hall MHL 0.07
Re-imagining Citizenship Stéphanie Jamet(Institut des Beaux-Arts de Besançon) and co-editor, with Fred Dalmasso of recently published Syncope in Performing and Visual Arts, 2017, Le Manuscrit
Stephanie Jamet abstract 22-Nov-2017