Research at Rose Bruford College reflects the institution’s identity: vocational, diverse, collaborative and inclusive. The perspective is international and multicultural, with the potential for intercultural performance in both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary contexts. Practice-based and scholarly research resulting in a variety of outcomes is complemented by research that informs or is the consequence of pedagogy, or interfaces reciprocally with the theatre industry. The research agenda is linked also to MA, MPhil and PhD programmes.
The Centres provide an overarching framework for research and other related activities, namely knowledge enterprise, creative entrepreneurship, community outreach and continuing professional development; and their internal organisation enables both the development of research within a supportive structure, and the mechanism for collaboration within the institution and with external partners.
In 2007 the Stanislavski Centre was established, a unique initiative within the UK to create a focus for both scholarly and academic research, and practice/performance projects and events based on Stanislavski’s work; and launched officially in 2008 at the National Theatre with an exhibition of items from the College’s Stanislavski Collection. The late Professor Jean Benedetti, a former College Principal, was invited to be the Centre’s Patron, a fitting appointment given his reputation as the UK’s foremost Stanislavski scholar and the person who had brought the Collection to the institution. In 2010 a further five Centres were formed within which research would be located, promoted and developed – in some cases these were linked to existing archives already donated to the College: The Rose Bruford Centre for Voice and Speech related to the Rose Bruford Archive which includes also a small collection of John Masefield’s work. The Clive Barker Centre for Theatrical Innovation is allied to the Clive Barker Archive. The work of the Centre fall into three focus areas: the Multicultural and Intercultural Performance Hub, connected to the David Bolland Kathakali Collection; the New Writing Hub: dedicated to research issues surrounding new work, translation, adaptation holds a growing collection of commissioned plays, and the donated Noel Greig Archive; and the Technologies in Performance Hub, which is augmented by the Nick Chelton Archive.
In 2011 the Theatre for Young Audiences Centre was created largely as a result of the development of an MA in Theatre for Young Audiences, a fruitful association with The Unicorn Theatre in London, and a growing relationship with TYA-UK; followed most recently in 2012 by the Centre for Learning and Teaching in the Performing Arts, mainly as a consequence of the success of research in pedagogy over a number of years, which in turn attracted significant funding from the Higher Education Academy for specific projects.
Following the example of the Stanislavski Centre it was envisioned that each Centre would have a Chair who, assisted by a small steering committee, would develop research within specific disciplines, enable inter-disciplinary projects with other Centres, and collaboration with outside organisations; and schedule lectures, research seminars, and allied events, some of which would be open to partner institutions and/or the public. The Centres have Advisory Boards of distinguished scholars and theatre practitioners and Patrons, amongst them Cicely Berry CBE, Yvonne Brewster OBE, Professor Eugenio Barba and David Wood OBE.
As a small specialist institution the College is fortunate in its resources. The facilities – two theatres, two black-box studios, rehearsal and movement rooms, lighting laboratories, scenic workshop, design units and exhibition areas, costume production site and wardrobe, and digital arts suite – provide an extensive laboratory for practice-based research.
Professor Simon Trussler, former Senior Research Fellow and now Professor Emeritus, was the co-founder with Clive Barker of New Theatre Quarterly and currently its co-editor with Professor Maris Shevtsova, Goldsmiths University of London. The College still enjoys a research orientated association with this celebrated journal strengthened by the appointments of Professor Nesta Jones, Director of Research, and Dr Aleks Sierz, Visiting Professor and Research Fellow, as Contributing Editors.
Research is promoted and organised by the Research Office and its personnel and disseminated in the institution through the Theatre Futures website, College Symposia, the cultural industries fair, conferences, exhibitions, installations and performances, and outside in appropriate venues, forums, and publications.