Drama and Theatre Studies Research Grouping
Drama and Theatre Studies research within the School of English is pursued by a group of dedicated researchers in drama, theatre and performance studies. Our membership is presently comprised of Professor Stephen Bottoms, Dr. Helen Iball, Dr. Robert Jones, Dr. Lourdes Orozco, Professor Jane Plastow, and Dr. Mark Taylor-Batty. Our focus of attention is primarily on modern and contemporary theatre practice (20th/21st), but this expertise is complemented by that of other colleagues in the School with particular interests in the theatre history and dramatic literature from earlier periods (Dr. Jones, for example, is a specialist on 18th Century theatre). As a group, we are well networked nationally and internationally, via theatre/performance research organisations such as SCUDD, TaPRA, and PSi, and in recent years we have co-hosted (alongside Leeds's School of Performance and Cultural Industries) the annual conference gatherings of TaPRA (2008) and PSi (2012). We have also hosted dedicated symposium events such as "The Author and the Audience" (2010, convened around Tim Crouch's controversial play The Author), "Artist and Citizen: 50 Years of Performing Pinter" (2007), and "Performing Literatures" (2007).
Drama research in the School is centred in the Workshop Theatre-a well-equipped complex consisting of two theatre spaces and two smaller studio spaces-which enables us to pursue practice-based research at both staff and postgraduate levels. In recent years, we have played host to productions by leading companies and practitioners including Belarus Free Theatre, Goat Island , Tim Crouch, Cupola Bobber, National Theatre of Ghana, and others. We regularly collaborate in research/practice interfaces with colleagues at West Yorkshire Playhouse, here in Leeds , and also further afield.
Workshop Theatre is especially well known, internationally, for its long history of work in the field of African Theatre, and we have recently played host to visiting researchers such as Dr Chukwuma Okoye (our Newton International Fellow, from Nigeria), and by Dr Peter Okoye (a Visiting Commonwealth Fellow, from Kenya). Professor Plastow is Director of LUCAS (Leeds University Centre for African Studies), and editor of Leeds African Studies Bulletin and co-editor of African Theatre (both annual). We are also very engaged with the interface between theatre/performance research and interdisciplinary, new humanities initiatives: Dr. Iball is involved with the School's Medical Humanities grouping (and has particular concerns with intimate and therapeutic performance contexts), Dr. Orozco with Environmental Humanities (she has particular expertise in the area of Animal Studies), and Dr. Taylor-Batty co-convenes the Digital Humanities grouping. Taylor-Batty is also associate editor of the new journal Performing Ethos (Intellect), while Orozco is Reviews Editor of Theatre Research International.
As a small research group with a diversity of research foci, our aim is to support each other in individual endeavours, while also collaborating to develop focused discussion themes towards publications and practical outcomes. One emerging concern is performance ethics (drawing together work by Iball, Orozco, Taylor-Batty), while another, related concern is around the question of 'Audience' and its role as witness, stimulant, censor: we see considerable potential value in the comparative study of audience functions/behaviours across different cultural contexts and time periods.