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14 APRIL 2012

Practising Theatre History as Research

"Much current scholarship in the field of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, including my own, focuses on the actual performance of plays in their own or later periods, regarding the texts that survive as, in different ways, blueprints for performance, and exploring them in the context of their performance spaces, actors and theatre–practice and of other agencies such as audiences that impact upon those texts in performance. My own research in these areas is largely conducted through practice.

But let me just sketch a brief background. In 1998, a sea–change occurred in the lives of arts (as opposed to humanities) researchers in the UK, with the creation of the Arts & Humanities Research Board (now Council) which, for the first time, funded practice–led research in the creative arts. I cannot stress too heavily the impact this had on the landscape of research in the performing arts.

That's not to say, of course, that research through practice had not been conducted before then. If I take my own department at Bristol as an example, scholars such as Glynne Wickham, Richard Southern and Neville Denny were experimenting from the early 1950s by staging medieval and early modern plays, and using their findings in their published work.

But the arrival of the AHRB not only provided funding for practice–led research in the academy, but in so doing, confirmed it as being as valid and – not to be underestimated – as respectable as research conducted through more traditional or conventional means. And – a point to which I shall return – it opened up debates not only on how such research might most profitably be conducted, but how it might be disseminated in forms other than the books or journal articles that had predominated – and be disseminated, in fact, through the practice/performance itself."

(Martin White)

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TAGS

1950s1998AHRBAHRCArts and Humanities Research BoardArts and Humanities Research Council • blueprints for performance • Bristolconducting researchcontribution to knowledge • Cornish • Cornish Ordinalia • Cornwallcreative artsdesign researchdesign researcherdissemination through performance • dissemination through practice • early modern period • Elizabethan drama • fourteenth century • funding for practice-led research • Glynne Wickham • history of theatre • Jacobean drama • journal articlesmedieval • medieval mystery plays • model of enquiry • Neville Denny • Ordinalia • Origo Mundi • Passio Christi • passion of Christperformance researchperformance spacesperforming arts • plays • practice as research in performancepractice-led research • practising theatre • publishing and disseminationresearch dissemination • research in the performing arts • research scholarshipresearch through practice • researchers in the UK • Resurrexio Domini • Richard Southern • staging • surviving texts • texts in performance • the academytheatre • theatre audiences • theatre history • theatre practice • theatrical performancetheoretical contextUKvalid scholarship

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 JUNE 2009

NT Live: What is it? How does it work?

"NT Live is an exciting new initiative to broadcast live performances of plays onto cinema screens worldwide. The four show pilot season will launch with Phèdre, with Helen Mirren, Margaret Tyzack and Dominic Cooper.

On 25 June the performance of Phèdre will be filmed in high definition and broadcast via satellite to approximately 65 cinemas and arts centres, reaching a widespread audience live across the UK. Tickets will cost £10. Over 200 venues around the world will also screen the production"
(National Theatre, UK)

[This appears to mark a logical evolution in digital cinema. Once unencumbered by the limitations of celluloid projection and enabled by the possibilities of digital–only projection cinemas can start to seriously revise their operation. In this case they are able to work as large–scale televisions presenting live broadcast content. One wonders how long it will take for this infrastructure to be redeployed as two–way receiving and transmitting collective performance spaces.]

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TAGS

2009Arts Council (UK)convergencedigital cinemadigital mediadigital theatre • Dominic Cooper • HD • Helen Mirren • high definitioninnovation • live broadcast • live performance on cinema screens • Margaret Tyzack • media convergencemultimedia • National Theatre • NESTA • NT Live • performanceperformance spaces • Phèdre • projectionsatellite • Ted Hughes • telecommunicationstelevisiontheatreUKvenue

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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