Susan Haedicke is Associate Professor in the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies at The University of Warwick and works as a professional freelance dramaturge in experimental and street theatres in France and the United States. Her area of research is European street theatre, on which she has published several articles and presented numerous conference papers. Her book on street theatre, tentatively titled Border Crossings in European Street Theatre, will be published in 2010 with Palgrave Macmillan.
Performance, Geography, History: Intersections and Traces
This was a street theatre project in the second-year module, European Street Theatre, in the Department of Theatre Studies. The over-arching objective of the project was to provide students with the opportunity to learn about street theatre through practice-based research in a variety of forms: as performers participating in workshops on acting skills needed for outdoor performance and thus using their bodies as research; as practitioners researching and devising a performance event; as archivists documenting their creative process as they develop the performance; as community activists researching a particular site in order to arouse public interest in its historical traces, cultural significances, and myths; and as spectators attending an international street theatre festival in France to experience first-hand the cutting-edge performance forms presented by professional companies from around the world. The hands-on teaching strategies challenged students to learn outside the traditional classroom setting in terms of materials, location, and experiential understanding. The most public aspect of the project was The Tocil Wood Project, an aesthetic exploration of a specific geographical place and its historical traces and contemporary cultural significances. The students collected and reworked source materials on the geographic location, deliberately interweaving facts from the past, ancient legends and hearsay, geographical details, cultural memory, and chance encounters with passers-by and devised a site-specific performance installation as an artistic response to the actual place. The performance took place in April 2008. Another key aspect of Performance, Geography, History: Intersections and Traces was taking the students to Viva Cité, the international street theatre festival in Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France, in June 2008. This trip included both students enrolled in the module in 2007/2008 and in 2008/2009.