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Practice-based research: PhD students

A number of students involved in PhDs in the Department of Drama and Theatre are involved in practice-based research projects. Practices include directing, devising, choreography, physical theatre, performance art, playwriting, voice, music, training practices, aerial work, applied theatre in care settings, puppetry andinterdisciplinary collaboration. 

Current students include:

April De Angelis

April De Angelis is in the final year of a practice-based PhD entitled ‘Troubling Gender’. This has involved writing a full-length play as well as an accompanying thesis exploring gender representations.

Silvia Battista

Silvia Battista, Three Hours Conversation with a Tree in Mountfield ParkSilvia Battista has engaged, over the last ten years, with performance, drawing, photography and video to investigate, deconstruct and interpret ecological and religious concepts of selfhood and their interrelated socio-political implications

Her current research interests focus on the theatrical potentialities of meditative, contemplative and ecstatic practices staged as performative laboratories of ecological experimentation. In particular she is exploring the structure of prayer as an act that seeks to establish a relation between the self and the ‘other’ through repetition and endurance. 

Her PhD thesis is entitled: ‘ In Search of the Numinous: Performative Laboratories of Experimentation with Technologies of the Self’, and discusses work by Marina Abramovic and Ansuman Biswas. Take a look at video extracts from her performance You Whisper, I Listen, He Speaks (Brighton, 2011).

Trudy A Bell

Trudy A Bell has more than 15 years of experience as a teacher, dramaturg, writer and director. As Artistic Director of Alias Theatre, she has directed professional theatre and delivered bespoke applied arts projects ranging from community theatre to Arts Award projects for hospitalised young people. 

Current research is focused on a practice-based theatre arts approach to creating shared narratives between refugee children and host communities, exploring the application of methodology related to kinaesthetic intelligence, rhythmic impulses, biomechanics and Laban. Current work also involves lecturing at the University of Northampton on the BA Acting degree and directing work for performance at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton.

Jeremy Bidgood

Jeremy Bidgood (www.pangolinsteatime.com and www.greatpuppethorn.com) is an experienced puppeteer, puppet maker and puppet director andbidgood is currently Artistic Director of Pangolin’s Teatime, an award-winning puppet company based in north London, and chair of British UNIMA. 

Jeremy has worked for a wide range of puppet and theatre companies across the UK and his deep tacit and theoretical understanding of puppetry is fundamental to his research methodologies. His research focuses on international exchanges of puppet forms with a particular interest in appropriations and interpretations of Japanese ningyō jōruri and the global success of the Osaka Bunraku theatre. Currently he is working in Japan with the Awaji ningyō jōruri theatre (淡路人魚浄瑠璃座).

Tina Carter

8AirhedzAerialYogaTina Carter (www.airhedz.co.uk) has worked with ‘aerial’ for almost 20 years as performer in touring circuses, nightclubs and theatres, as director of her former company Expressive Feat Productions, and more recently as trainer and choreographer of ‘disabled aerialists’ for Graeae, Cirque Nova and the Paralympic Opening Ceremony of London 2012. 

She worked with Graeae again in 2013 as aerial choreographer for a new show launching at the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival; she is also developing Aerial-Yoga practice in partnership with yoga instructor Karin van Maanen. Tina's PhD research focuses on the ways in which ‘disabled aerialists’ are revolutionising aerial work in the twenty-first century. Her PhD draws on her practice with disabled practitioners, analysing both the POC and her short film Hang-ups! as case studies, both of which have led her to ask questions about ‘access’ in aesthetic and political terms.

Kat Joyce

Kat Joyce is a director/scenographer/playwright who creates work using a range of approaches including choreography, physical improvisaKat Joyce, Tangled Feet's All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, 2012tion and scriptwriting. With long-held practical interests in multi-lingual, multi-modal and spatially specific work she is Co-Artistic Director of devised physical theatre ensemble Tangled Feet.

Her research proposes that there is an ingrained 'text-centricity' to British theatre culture which has resulted in a dearth of strategies for addressing the potential and impact of both the performer's and spectator's embodied presence as part of performance; it addresses the politics and kinaesthetic strategies of collaboratively-authored work in public spaces. Current/forthcoming projects include: a Tangled Feet Take To The Streets (season of outdoor work in 2013), the development of a large-scale outdoor work addressing youth unemployment for the finale of Greenwich + Docklands International Festival in Woolwich, and Sibling Stories, a dramatherapy project working with the siblings of autistic children.

Jayne Lloyd

Jayne Lloyd’s practice-based PhD research is on Age Exchange Theatre Trust's use of reminiscence and interdisciplinary arts (theatre, music, fine art and movement and dance) practices in care settings with people with dementia. 

The research includes observations of Age Exchange practitioners alongside three of her own practice-based interventions. Key areas of research include, the reciprocity of the work, the performativity of the care setting, the embedding of reminiscence into the arts process, and the creative dialogue between practitioners from different disciplinary backgrounds.

Rebecca McCutcheon

Rebecca McCutcheon's research is an interrogation into the nature and possibilities of site:text correspondences, when directing and performing in non-theatre sites. She is exploring a range of relationships, working with authenticating, immersive sites, to highly dissonant sites. In March-April 2013, Rebecca conducted a series of workshops in two sites at Royal Holloway, using Elizabeth Cary’s Mariam. Rebecca is a London-based theatre practitioner. 

In 2001 she co-founded site specific theatre company angels in the architecture, directing productions in the Roundhouse undercroft, the disused Aldwych tube station on the Strand, the site of the Rose theatre, the House of St Barnabas, Soho and at Kensington Palace.

Eugénie Pastor

Eugénie Pastor is a researcher and practitioner, working with Little Bulb Theatre as a musician, performer and co-devisor. She recently submitted her PhD thesis entitled 'Moving Intimacies: A Comparative Study of "Physical Theatres" in France and the UK'. Using phenomenology, dance ethnography and bilingualism as a methodology, her research focuses on the way movement can challenge strict divisions between spaces of the theatre and redefine notions of intimacy, tactility, corporeality and the collective.

Her research interests include devising, movement, writing about performance from both a practitioner and an audience member's point of view, bilingualism as a research tool, and the physicality and phenomenology of performing music. She worked with Little Bulb Theatre on a production of Orpheus set in 1930s Paris, which included gypsy jazz and the music of Django Reinhardt (performed at BAC, 16 April – 11 May 2013); and is working on Squally Showers, a show in which the company will experiment with a dance-theatre vocabulary.

Deborah Pearson

DeborahPearsonTheFutureDeborah Pearson is a writer, performer, dramaturg and producer of contemporary performance. She founded and co-directs UK artist-led network Forest Fringe.

Her research interests centre around questions of authorship, representation, text, story and narrative in relation to contemporary performance in the UK. She is currently dramaturg of Action Hero's upcoming piece, called Hoke's Bluff, a collaboration with writer Nick Walker, which interrogates teen sports movies and their relationship to the American myth; it will premiere at the Edinburgh Festival this year. 

She is also developing and performing her own piece, The Future Show, to be shown at Arts Admin in Toynbee Hall in March, and at the Fusebox Festival in Austin, Texas in April. She has worked with BAC, the National Theatre Studio, Rules and Regs and Volcano (Toronto, Canada), among others. Her essay about Ridiculusmus and Tim Crouch for Exeunt, "The Necessity of Narrative?", will be published this year by the Live Art Development Agency as part of their upcoming Live Art Almanac.

Ailsa Richardson

Ailsa Richardson’s PhD research focuses on investigations of embodiment and interventions in the practices of Goat Island and BodyWeather , collaborative creative processes, and re-thinking models of community. She is a performer, dancer, facilitator and teacher and has been engaged with making multidisciplinary and site responsive performance since 1997. 

She has performed and directed her own work and performed and trained with companies such as Kneehigh Theatre, The Centre for Performance Research, de Quincey company, as well as undertaking public art projects and participatory projects in the community. She also teaches a moving meditation and ecstatic dance practice called 'Movement Medicine'.

Nikolas Wakefield

Nik Wakefield 'How Long'Nikolas Wakefield’s PhD title is 'Time-specificity of Performance: Duration, Memory and Evolution'. As texts are both read and written, practice takes the form of both inputs and outputs in this research. 

Inspired by the philosophy of Henri Bergson and contemporary performance practices, three performances mirror the main chapters of the thesis text – temporality of live art, documentation and memory, and the creative nature of performance philosophy. Recurring themes include repetition/difference, appearance/becoming and transformation/continuity. Professionally Nik is Head of Performance at Heritage Arts Company, and has worked with Every House Has a Door and Punchdrunk. In addition to more than 10 recent conference presentations, Nik has shown solo and collaborative work across the UK and soon in Croatia, Finland and the USA.

You can find out more about the departmental staff's practice-based research here .


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