On 15 April, via the African Women Playwrights' Network project, Yvette Hutchison launched Woza Africa: Theatre in the African Context, a free digital education resource which she designed with Kenyan playwright JC Niala and Public Engagement Consultant Flo Swann, to introduce teachers, theatre groups and students around the world to a wide range of African approaches to storytelling, alongside historic and cultural frames of reference.
It has had good take-up, with some 82 schools, theatre groups, public sector organisations and Universities from 19 countries uploading it so far. Theatres like the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry and Birmingham Mac have signalled their intent to use it with their youth drama groups.
So please use or pass on the link to anyone who you think may want to explore aspects of theatre specific to the African contexts, especially with the challenges of remote teaching and home schooling right now https://warwick.ac.uk/awpn
Professor Jim Davis awarded £600,000 AHRC grant to research Theatre and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century
An AHRC grant of approximately £600,000 has been awarded to Professor Jim Davis as Principal Investigator and to Professor Kate Newey (Exeter University) as Co-Investigator for a research project on Theatre and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century. The project will be based at Warwick in Theatre and Performance Studies. Two named postdoctoral full-time research fellows will also be attached to the project for its three-year duration: Dr Pat Smyth, an art historian specialising in the relationship between art and theatre in nineteenth-century France, who will be based at Warwick, and Dr Kate Holmes (who has a specialist interest in circus and aerial performance), based at Exeter. Bristol University’s Theatre Collection and Exeter University’s Bill Douglas Museum will be project partners, collaborating in the mounting of exhibitions and conferences.
The project will focus on the relationship of popular forms of theatre to visual culture and on spectacle and spectatorship in nineteenth century Britain, with France used as a comparative case study. The study of theatrical spectacle in this period has been neglected, despite revisionist studies such as Meisel’s Realizations (1983) which examines the practice of ‘realizing’ works of art on stage. The project will use archival research and recent theoretical approaches to move beyond Meisel’s model to offer a new reading of nineteenth-century staging that considers it not just aspiring to the condition of visual art, but as part of wider popular visual culture. A key aim will be to interrogate the continuing association between spectacle and ‘passive viewing’ by demonstrating the capacity of stage spectacle to convey multiple meanings and by exploring audience participation in the active construction of those meanings. Thus, the project will examine theatrical spectacle as part of a commercial, technologically innovative explosion of imagery in this period, part of a visual culture that included new forms such as lithography, steel-engraving, optical entertainments (such as panoramas and dioramas) and the illustrated press. The circulation of images will be examined in relation to theories of ‘remediation’. While existing studies of inter-art connections work on the premise of exchanges between essentially discrete art forms, this project will test the notion of a new kind of popular audience for whom distinctions of media were irrelevant and who sought instead the sensation of ‘immediacy’.