The Activity of Writing: Lone or Collaborative? by Dr Paul Fryer
Paul outlined how his writing has evolved by working with others. After authoring two books – The Opera Singer and the Silent Film (2005) and A Chronology of Opera Performances at the Moscow Art Theatre (2009) – and editing Stanislavski Studies, Paul has come to understand that he produces his best work collaboratively, and so he has decided to not write another book alone. Editing and translating have taught him that “the author is not the only person who holds the pen” because someone else’s work is re-shaped during these processes.
Kolonists and Sean O’Casey by Professor Nesta Jones
Nesta is writing an article for Stanislavski Studies regarding Steven Dykes’ play Kolonists (1996). The play started life at Goldsmiths whilst Steven was teaching in the Drama Department where he learnt that a father of one of his students was Estonian by birth and was trying to reclaim his family’s property in what was now an independent country. Steven became interested in writing a play about the political situation in Estonia, which following the fall of the Berlin Wall, and of communism as an organised political power in Europe, became independent of the Soviet Union. Russians who were living in Estonia suddenly found themselves facing an uncertain future. Kolonists was commissioned for the Goldsmiths’ MA in Theatre Arts ensemble, MAdays, with performances at the Man in the Moon Theatre in the summer of 1996. It received its professional premiere in NXT’s NOVEMBER: Fall of the Wall season in 1999 at Bridge Lane Theatre, as part of a project that marked the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first decade of post-Soviet Europe. Kolonists draws on the paradigm of Anton Chekhov with particular reference to Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. In her article, Nesta will discuss how the play was developed in a pedagogical and then professional context, and how its subject matter has acquired new resonances for audiences in the light of the current geo-political climate in Eastern Europe.
As an undergraduate in the 1960s, Nesta was taught that the playwright Sean O’Casey was a ‘photo-realist’. After studying his plays in-depth at the University of Essex and directing productions of The Plough and the Stars and The Silver Tassie at Goldsmiths, University of London in the 1970s and 1980s, Nesta came to understand more fully O’Casey’s use of expressionist techniques and heightened language in his plays. She published books on productions of the O’Casey’s plays in Europe and the USA for Methuen and Chadwyck-Healey in the 1990s; and wrote a chapter on Garry Hynes’ inaugural production of The Plough and the Stars, as artistic director of The Abbey Theatre in 1991, for a book on women in theatre in Ireland which was never published. The essay remains, however, and will now form part of a series of essays on five O’Casey plays to be published in Sidcup Papers on Theatre Futures. The plays are: The Plough and the Stars, set during the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916; The Silver Tassie recently revived at the National Theatre in London, which marked not only the centenary of World War One, the period in which the play is set, but also the 50th anniversary of O’Casey’s death in 1964; Red Roses for Me, the playwright’s most autobiographical play; The Bishop’s Bonfire banned in Ireland; and Cock-a-doodle Dandy, O’Casey’s favourite play.
What’s the Small Idea? by Dr Nick Hunt
What’s the Small Idea? is a project that ‘stages’ a series of dichotomies related to the concept of ‘seeing’. Performance studies has moved away from examining performances as discrete objects in favour of valorising their processual characteristics. As buildings, theatres have been designed to create transcendent experiences for the audience, which Wagner described as the “completest possible illusion”. But the artifice of theatre is never entirely absent from the audience’s experience, and is indeed embraced by many theatre companies and artists. Gallery spaces allow viewers to either immersive themselves in the subject of the displayed art works or focus on their material qualities; the object and the viewer’s gaze work together to create what might be described as a ‘performative moment’. The What’s The Small Idea? project invites viewers to consider the role they play when they are immersed in a gallery designed for individuals, and indeed what ‘type’ of experience are they having – a private or communal one? The gallery (pictured above) will be installed at RBC during the symposium; people will be invited to sit and watch a series of photographs that Nick took specifically for the project.
Fluid Ecologies by Joseph Dunne
Between May and June Joseph will be engaged in a practice-as-research project Fluid Ecologies. The project will be conducted with his colleagues in Tracing the Pathway Collective. The project has three iterations: at the LAPSody Festival in Helsinki; a self-directed residency in Copenhagen; and as part of PSi’s Fluid States North: Performances of Unknowing conference in Nuuk, Greenland. Fluid Ecologies’ draws on Joseph’s research into how documentation can function as a type of interlocutor between site, memory, and the archive; documents in this schema are produced as generative materials for future performance events. Joseph and the other members of Tracing the Pathway will facilitate an interactive installation, Hoppy Hoppy Sparrows, to reflect on how memory translates into text, and on how performance can be framed as a knowledge-generating machine. The documentation produced during the above residences will be stored in Tracing the Pathway’s archive, with the intention of using it as material to develop their pedagogy and performance-making methodology.
Reflecting on Learning and Teaching by Professor Kathy Dacre
Kathy is encouraging staff to publish articles pertaining to their teaching practice, and to always remember that “nothing we do is wasted – we teach and learn everyday”. A significant development in teaching and learning is the role technology now plays in Higher Education, and so it would be pertinent for staff to reflect on how they use it in their teaching practice; classroom activities are material for potential articles. Kathy is going to use the Reflecting on Learning and Teaching the Performing Arts website as a repository of staff research. Possible platforms to publish on include SEDA Publications (encompassing SEDA Papers, the SEDA Specials monographs, Educational Developments magazine, and the Innovations in Education and Teaching International journal); the Association for Learning Development website; Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance; and naturally the Rose Bruford Research Papers on Theatre Futures.