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History, Heritage and Memory

There is an on-going consideration of history, heritage and memory in Theatre and Performance Studies research. Jim Davis is particularly interested in theatre historiography and in the investigation and recovery of past performance. His recent monograph on comic acting c. 1780-1830 uncovers performance histories that have previously received minimal attention, while his investigation of hoaxes and fires as performative spectacles in nineteenth-century London opens up new possibilities for the historical exploration of non-theatrical performance. Following the publication of her monograph South African Performance and Archives of Memory (2013), which explored how South Africa has negotiated its past in and through various modes of performance in contemporary theatre, public events and memorial spaces, Yvette Hutchison has further developed her work to focus on how aesthetic choices affect how theatre makers and artists can appropriately re-engage audiences with historic material that is difficult due to its relation to colonialism or involves conflictual or disavowed memories. Having published Performing European Memories: Trauma, Ethics, Politics (2013), which investigates the intersections between contemporary European theatre and performance, the interdisciplinary field of memory studies, and current preoccupations with the politics of memory in Europe, Milija Gluhovic is currently working on a new monograph Theory for Theatre Studies: Memory. Covering sites from across Europe, Latin America, South Africa, India and Japan, this project will illustrate the centrality of memory for the theatre as well as the vital role of theatre in making political claims and interventions and transmitting individual and collective memories.

Michael Pigott’s research, which combines historical research with textual analysis and practical videographic investigation, considers how the representation of cities in film and visual art engages directly with the ways in which cultural memory is entwined with and embedded into the surfaces of urban space, as well the way that the characteristics of specific city locations often impose their own significance and history within cultural texts. Nadine Holdsworth has also explored how a recent production of Henry V, which took place alongside the iconic HMS Victory housed in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, can be understood in relation to authorised heritage discourse and heritage as a cultural performance engaged in the construction of cultural identity, memory and place. Alongside this work, Harpin also examines questions of history, historiography, and power in her recent edited collection, Performance, Madness, Psychiatry: Isolated Acts (Palgrave 2014). This interdisciplinary, international collection of essays examines the history of performance in and about psychiatric asylums and hospitals. This book emerged out of an AHRC Networking Grant and is particularly concerned with the history of performance as a key, new mode of understanding our psychiatric past.

  • Selected publications on History, Heritage and Memory:

    Davis, Jim, ‘Disrupting the Quotidian: Hoaxes, Fires and Non-theatrical Performance in Nineteenth-Century London, New Theatre Quarterly, 29:1

    Holdsworth, Nadine 'Performing Place, Heritage and Henry V in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard', Contemporary Theatre Review, forthcoming 2016

    Hutchison, Yvette, ‘Between word, image and movement: performative critiques of colonial ethnography’, Témoigner: Testimony Between History and Memory, Auschwitz Foundation International Quarterly, no.121 (Oct 2015), 148-163.

    Hutchison, Yvette, ‘Embodied Practice that troubles fixed narratives of identity, history and memory’, in Making Space for Creativity in Collaboration & Cultural Interventions: 25 Years of Magnet Theatre (eds.) Megan Lewis and Anton Krueger. Intellect (UK/ USA) and Unisa (SA), forthcoming 2016.

    Gluhovic, Milija, Theory for Theatre Studies: Memory, Methuen Drama, 2018/9

    Gluhovic, Milija “Tadeusz Kantor.” A New History of Polish Literature. Eds. Tamara Trojanowska, Joanna Nyzinska, Przemyslaw Czaplinski. Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2015.

    Pigott, Michael, Choreography for Camera and Missing Sculpture. 45 min. HD video and 2 A3 digital prints. Part of group exhibition at BOM Lab, Birmingham, Sept-Oct 2015.

    Pigott, Michael, The Future is a Waste of Time, 18 min. HD video, 2015

    Pigott, Michael, Buenos Aires: Porous City, video installation, at Me, Myself, and Others: A Cinematic Approach to Latin American Encounters symposium, February 2015

    Whybrow, Nicolas, “’The City of the Eye’: Urban Aesthetics and Surveillance in the City of Venice”, New Theatre Quarterly, 31(2), May, 2015, pp.164-78.

    Whybrow, Nicolas, “Trafalgar Square: of Plinths, Play, Pigeons, Publics and Participation”, The Uses of Art in Public Space, ed. Julia Lossau and Quentin Stevens, London and New York: Routledge, 2015, pp.67-80.

Yvette Hutchison: South African performance and archives of memory (2013)

europeanMilija Gluhovic: Performing European Memories: Trauma, Ethics, Politics (2013)

Anna Harpin: Performance, Madness and Psychiatry: Isolated Acts (2014)