Making Research Matter
The Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance has a long-standing track record of conducting research in partnership with a very wide range of individuals, organisations and communities.
The impact of our research is felt nationally and internationally in academia and beyond, generating new kinds of theatre practice, enriching public debate, and enabling high-level engagement to groups otherwise marginalised by mainstream theatre.
We work in collaboration with professional theatre companies and performance-makers, with community ‘user’ groups outside theatre, and with theatre audiences and members of the public in various contexts, settings and spaces.
Our size and ambition allows us to develop our research across a range of cultures and histories of performance as evidenced in a lively and extensive array of collaborations, workshops, conferences, performances, journals, papers and appearances in the print and broadcast media.
Our research impact is concentrated in three areas:
- contemporary theatre cultures;
- performance-making, performer training and dance;
- theatre histories and heritages.
Here are some of our initiatives
Reconstructing lost dances
We’ve worked with the Royal Ballet School to reconstruct dances that were otherwise lost, because the choreographers had taught the movement but not kept any record of it. Led by Professors Richard Cave and Elizabeth Shafer, this project led to the revival of the ballet Miracle in the Gorbals - performed at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London in 2014.
Cultural activism in Sicily
In the face of natural and social catastrophes - earthquakes, organized crime, political corruption, poverty, etc. - what kinds of interventions have been employed by activists, artists and many others in recent years in Sicily, to ‘protest against forgetting’ (Eric Hobsbawm) and to seed other possibilities for civic and creative life? In dialogue with various activist groups, artists and NGOs, David Williams is exploring these overlooked histories with a particular focus on urban design and its animation, and practices of memory and memorialisation.
Drag performance in South Africa
Why is drag performance so important to cultural identity, and how do we cultivate archives that are inclusive of performers who feel excluded from universities? The documentation of Cape Town's drag and trans performance provides crucial exposure to S. African LGBTQI communities. Alongside Miss Gay Western Cape Pageant and District Six Museum, Bryce Lease explores the relationship between post-apartheid national identity and gay rights, new postcolonial directions in queer theory and the sexual geographies bounded by race and economic privilege.
Amateur theatre and community participation
Amateur theatre has an active place in the social and cultural life of many communities; 1.8 million people are involved in amateur drama across England, with audiences of over 21 million each year. Yet the term 'am dram' is often used disparagingly, derided by professional theatre-makers and largely ignored by academics. Helen Nicholson leads the first major study of amateur theatre, analysing the craft, repertoire and heritage, and asks how and why people spend time making theatre for the love of it.