"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."