Skip to main content


Class Schedule

Each class meeting will be divided between lecture/discussion and practical workshop. Be sure to have read the readings (readings on class schedule below are required unless listed as recommended) by class on the day they are listed. Individual tutors are listed next to each class session.

Week 1: Autobiographical performance: solo and collaborative (Natasha Davis)

Solo autobiographical performance dealing with specific issues such as migration, feminism, body, memory, disability, queerness, performance and medicine etc, and concepts such as personal as political, socially engaging and so on. We will look at the work of artists such as Natasha Davis, Nando Messias, Martin O’Brien, Stacy Makishi, Selina Thompson, Shabnam Shabazi, Mojisola Adebayo, Broken Talkers. This will be a performance theory session with a range of slides and videos, and discussion.


Davis, Natasha and Yana Meerzon. ‘Staging an Exilic Autobiography: On the pleasures and frustrations of repetitions and returns’. Performance Research: A journal of the performing arts 20.5 (2015): 63-69.

Heddon, Deirdre. Autobiography and Performance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 20-25.

O’Brien, Martin. (2014) ‘Performing Chronic: Chronic illness and endurance art, Performance Research’. Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts, 19:4 (2014): 54-63

Said, Edward W. Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2000. 173-186.


Nando Messias website:

Selina Thompson website:


Week 2 Autobiographical performance: solo and collaborative (Natasha Davis)

Creating performance work based on autobiographical material collaboratively with other artists and/or participants as shared (auto)biography. Autobiographical work combined with or deriving from existing texts. We will look at the work of artists and companies such as Natasha Davis, Mammalian Diving Reflex, Curious, The Vacuum Cleaner, Raimund Hoghe, Project O, Jane Arnfield, Tino Sehgal and others. This session will be divided between the performance theory with slides, videos and discussion, and a practical workshop.


Connolly, Mary Kate, ed. Throwing the Body Into the Fight. London, Bristol and Chicago: Live Art Development Agency and Intellect, 2013. 65-77.

Freeman, John. Blood, Sweat and Theory: Research through practice in performance. London: Libri Publishing, 2010. 44-56.

Paramana, Katerina. ‘On Resistance through Ruptures and the Rupture of Resistances’. Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts 19:6 (2014): 81-89.


Mammalian Diving Reflex website:

The Vacuum Cleaner website:

Jane Arnfield’s project The Tin Ring:


Week 3 Autobiographical performance: solo and collaborative (Natasha Davis)

Installation based autobiographical performance. We will look at the work of the artists such as Mona Hatoum, Ana Mendieta, Selina Thompson, Guillermo Gomez Peña, Curious, Laurie Anderson, Margareta Kern, Marina Abramovic, Zhang Huan, Sophie Calle, Natasha Davis. This session will be divided between the performance theory with slides, videos and discussion, and a practical workshop.


Adolphs, V. (2004) ‘The Body and the World’, in Adolphs, V., Christoph, H., Julin, R., Millqvist, E., Panhans-Bühler, U. and Zimmer, N. Mona Hatoum. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz with Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kunstmuseum Bonn and Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, pp. 43-60.

Blocker, J. (1999) Where is Ana Mendieta?: Identity, Performativity and Exile. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 1-27.

Richards, M. (2010) Marina Abramović. London/New York: Routledge, pp. 1-23.


Curious website:

Guillermo Guillermo Gomez Peña website:

Margareta Kern website:


Week 4 Autobiographical performance: solo and collaborative (Natasha Davis)

The dramaturgy of interdisciplinary multi-media work in performance. This whole session will be a practical workshop. The workshop will explore an interdisciplinary approach to creating performance material using body, movement, sound, text and objects. Through a series of playful exercises, which will include solo, pair and group work, we will explore how performance material can be created and shaped using a variety of approaches. Throughout the session we will be making, re-making, performing and analysing short excerpts of newly made work, and putting it in the context of the work of other artists we discussed in the previous three sessions.


Nelson, Robin. Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, protocols, pedagogies, resistances. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. pages: tbc.


Natasha Davis website:

Watch the 4:35 mins video on (in German with English subtitles)

Watch podcast conversation with Maire Clerkin about her autobiographical solo The Bad Arm: Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer:


Week 5 Autobiographical performance: solo and collaborative (Natasha Davis)

Work on Project 1 performance. Your performance can include one or more of the following: text, movement, media (such as film or recorded existing or composed sound), text, gestures, objects etc. It can be presented as an excerpt from a longer or durational piece of work, however it needs to display dramaturgical clarity and make sense on its own.

In this session you will have an opportunity to make and practise your performances and ask for advice, however the work needs to be your own. We will also discuss in this session any reasonable technical needs you may have for your performances in session 6.


Week 6 Project 1 performance assessment (Natasha Davis and Susan Haedicke)

You will perform in the studio. You can choose to perform autobiographical material solo (approximately 20 minutes long) or to present collaborative performance work. If you are working as a pair you can extend the time to 30 minutes, or to 45 minutes if you are working in a group of three. You will have 5 minutes each to provide the context to your performance and the role you played in it, which you can deliver by talking about it, using a power point presentation, sketches, models and similar – either before or after presenting the performance itself.


Assessment Criteria:

Demonstrate a keen understanding of the characteristics of autobiographical performance.

An understanding of practice based issues and an ability to explore and experiment with these ideas practically.

Evidence a clear understanding of the creative process of developing an autobiographic performance.

Demonstrate an imaginative practical engagement with your research questions.

Evidence skills of editing and composition.

Suggested Optional Readings and Viewings for Autobiographical performance: solo and collaborative:

Bal, Mieke. ‘Autotopography: Louise Bourgeois as builder’. Interfaces: Women/autobiography/image/performance. Eds. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson. University of Michigan Press, 2005. 163-185.

Brison, Susan J. ‘Trauma Narratives and the Remaking of the Self’. Acts of Memory: Cultural recall in the present. Eds. Bal, Mieke, Jonathan Crewe and Leo Spitzer. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1999. 39-54.

Gómez-Peña, Guillermo. ‘Culturas-in-Extremis: Performing against the cultural backdrop of the mainstream bizarre’. The Performance Studies Reader. Ed. Henry Bial. London and New York: Routledge, 2004. 287-298.

Goulish, Matthew. 39 Microlectures. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.

Jones, Amelia. ‘Performing the Other as Self: Cindy Sherman and Laura Aguilar pose the subject’. Interfaces: Women/autobiography/image/performance. Eds. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005. 69-102.

Kristeva, Julia. Strangers to Ourselves. Transl. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.

Minh-ha, Trinh T. Framer Framed. New York and London: Routledge, 1992

Murakami, Haruki. What I Talk About when I Talk about Running. London: Vintage, 2009.

Rendell, Jane. Site Writing: The architecture of art criticism. London: I. B. Tauris, 2010.

Smith Sidonie and Julia Watson. Reading Autobiography: A guide for interpreting life narratives. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.  


Week 7: From Site to Performance: Site-Specificity in Theatre and Performance (Susan Haedicke)


Miwon Kwon, Chapter 1: ‘Genealogy of Site-Specificity’ in One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, pp. 33-55. (e-book)

Tompkins, Joanne. ‘The Place and Practice of Site-Specific Theatre’ in Performing Site-Specific Theatre: Politics, Place, Practice. Eds. Anna Birch and Joanne Tompkins, pp. 1-20. (e-book)

Cathy Turner. ‘Palimpsest or Potential Space? Finding a Vocabulary for Site-Specific Performance’. New Theatre Quarterly 20.4 (2010): 373-90.

Fiona Wilkie, ‘Mapping the Terrain: a Survey of Site-Specific Performance in Britain’. New Theatre Quarterly 18.2 (2002): 140-61.


Look at the work of:

Willi Dorner, Bodies in Urban Spaces

Rebar, PARK(ing) DAY


Talking Birds,

Workshop: Getting to know a site

Before this workshop, you need to have observed a site in detail: space itself (architecture, nature, etc), people in it, details of interactions that occur in space. I would suggest three visits of at least one-hour each at different times of the day. Be as specific as possible—look for detail that the normal everyday observer doesn’t have time to look for. How is the activity specific to the site? Try to be as objective as possible—scientific observation (empirical research, ethnography, observation of life unfiltered). Think about what ‘found things’ (sounds, objects, texts, etc.) you could collect at the site that you would inform an understanding of the place, its rhythms, its activities, its character, etc.?


Week 8: From Site to Performance: Site-Specificity in Theatre and Performance (Susan Haedicke)



Mike Pearson, ‘Haunted House: Staging The Persians with the British Army’ in Performing Site-Specific Theatre: Politics, Place, Practice. Eds. Anna Birch and Joanne Tompkins, pp. 69-83. (e-book)

Patricia Phillips, (1995) “Maintenance Activity: Creating a Climate for Change” in But is it Art? The Spirit of Art as Activism. Ed. Nina Felshin. Seattle: Bay Press, pp. 165-93. (on Mierle Laderman Ukeles). Available through course extracts.

Susan Haedicke, ‘Beyond Site-Specificity: Environmental Heterocosms on the Street’ in Performing Site-Specific Theatre: Politics, Place, Practice. Eds. Anna Birch and Joanne Tompkins, pp. 103-17. (e-book)

Victoria Hunter, ‘Dancing the Beach: In Between Land, Sean and Sky’ in Victoria Hunter, ed. Moving Sites: : Investigating Site-Specific Dance Performance, pp. 295-309. (e-book)



Wildworks, The Passion of Port Talbot ( Documentary, Part I (on devising the three-day show)

Documentary, Part II (excerpts from the performance) 


Workshop: Social Mapping of a site

For this workshop, you will make an installation/map in the studio of the site you worked on last week (you will probably need to return to the site to collect found objects, sounds, texts, take photos, etc.). It can include items found on the site (sounds, objects, text, etc.), photographs, video and/or objects, sounds, etc. that evoke the character of the site. You need to bring the things you need with you to class. You will have about fifteen minutes to set them up. We will then walk around our pop-up gallery of sites and discuss each artwork.

Questions to think about:

  • How will you create this map? With found objects? Paper? Blocks? Light?
  • Will the scale/proportion be accurate or altered to make a point?
  • Thinking about the site is the main “character”, what will you emphasize? What do you want the audience to walk away with?
  • What do you want to say about the site? Tell its stories (background research)? Characterize its contemporary character?
  • How will you help the audience “read” the site?


Week 9: From Site to Performance: Site-Specificity in Theatre and Performance (Carolyn Deby)



Claire Bishop, Chapter 1, IV: ‘Directed Reality: The Battle of Orgreave’ in Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, pp. 30-37. (e-book)

Victoria Hunter, (2015). ‘Experiencing space: The implications for site-specific dance performance’, in Hunter, V. (ed.). Moving Sites: Investigating site-specific dance performance. London & New York: Routledge. pp. 33-39. (e-book)

Carl Lavery, ‘The Pepys of London E11: Graeme Miller and the Politics of Linked’, New Theatre Quarterly 21.2 (2005): 148-60.

Kurt Meyer, ‘Rhythms, Streets, Cities’, in Goonewardena, K., et al., eds. (2008). SPACE, DIFFERENCE, EVERYDAY LIFE: Reading Henri Lefebvre. Routledge: pp. 147-162.


Gob Squad – Calling Laika (piece in a car park)

Seven Sisters Group – Salome

Jeremy Deller, The Battle of Orgreave. Artangel Media (Mike Figgis film). Available at Library as Video 1126 or DVD 2056.

Workshop: From site to performance

In this workshop, we will identify and develop strategies for devising performance in specific sites, beginning with site immersion in order to notice what is already there: topographies/surfaces; rhythms; sounds; social context; private/public spaces; framing and points of view; histories; other sensory impressions; stillnesses and movements; humans and non-humans.

After an individual site observation task (impressions recorded using a combination of strategies: taking notes, photos, drawings, video, physical re-enactment) you will share your findings with the rest of the group. From these initial observations, both solo and ensemble experiments will be developed, working in the site. These experimental studies will lay the ground for creating your Project 2 performance.

NOTE: please bring a notebook and pen/pencil; be careful to ensure safety of yourself and the public; wear comfortable shoes and clothing appropriate to the weather; be prepared to work rain or shine; work with care on rough or dangerous surfaces.

Week 10 From Site to Performance: Site-Specificity in Theatre and Performance (Susan Haedicke)

Work on Project 2 performance.

 Week 11 Project 2 performance assessment (Exact date and time TBD)

You will perform on-site, so we will need to be able to get from one to the next.

Suggested Optional Readings for From Site to Performance:

Doherty, Claire, ed. Out of Time, Out of Place: Public Art (Now). London: Art Books Publishing, Ltd., 2015.

Doherty, Claire. Situation. London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2009.

Hill , Leslie and Helen Paris. Performance and Place. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006

Hunter, Victoria, ed. Moving Sites: Investigating Site-Specific Dance Performance. Abingdon, Oxon, England: Routledge, 2015.

Kaye, Nick. Site-Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation. London: Routledge, 2000.

Pearson, Mike. Site-Specific Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Cordileone, Amy and Rachel Tuggle Whorton. ‘Site-Specific Theatre: new perspectives on pedagogy and performance’. Research in Drama Education 20.3 (2015): 298-301.

Ferdman, Bertie. ‘Site-Specific Performance’. Theatre Survey 54.1 (2013): 148-50.

Rugg, Judith. Exploring Site-Specific Art Issues of Space and Internationalism. London: B. Tauris, 2010.

Schmidt, Theron. ‘Site-Specific Performance’. Modern Drama 55.2 (2012): 278-80.