The performing arts are inescapably social and public. The performing arts presume the presence of an audience – an exchange between performer and witness. Further, theatre-making is, generally, a collaborative process involving actors, directors, writers, technicians, designers, managers and many more working together in a shared enterprise. These attributes — sociability, an emphasis on communication and collaboration — underpin the practice and study of theatre and performance in the College of Arts at the University of Glasgow.
Our teaching and research has strong and established links to the professional cultural and arts sectors in Glasgow, Scotland and beyond. These include researchers working with the Arches, National Theatre of Scotland, Untitled Projects, the Citizens Theatre and Glasgay as critical commentators and advisors; public performances and events produced as part of collaborative doctoral projects with Catherine Wheels Theatre Company and Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel, and commissions for site-specific performances and public artworks from Glasgow Life and Glasgow Sculpture Studios/Scottish Waterways Trust/Scottish Canals.
Our students benefit greatly from our established partnerships with the arts and performance sectors through mentorship, work placements and employment opportunities. In addition, the multiple modes of learning that students undertake in studying theatre and performance — such as collaborative devising practices, and the critical use of video and other media, alongside more ‘traditional’ scholarly approaches towards research and analysis — provide them with a range of valuable and transferrable skills in their careers beyond the university.
Our theatre and performance scholarship also extends beyond the arts and cultural sectors to consider performance as a lens through which to explore and examine our (human) place in the world. Recent thinking in, for example, cultural geography, philosophy and ecology has proposed that performance is a productive mode for considering humans’ relationship with what is popularly understood as ‘the environment’. This is a particular focus for a cluster of researchers in performance studies in the College of Art whose work includes research on the performance of rivers, ruins and forests and on how we can learn from the experiences of differently-abled people to question and enhance our understandings of ‘landscape’ and ‘environment’. This research has found us forming partnerships with ecological and environmental organisations and agencies such as eco/art/scot/land, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Creative Carbon and Glasgow Life.
Throughout the coming month we will be featuring our range of expertise in theatre and performance and some projects where we are working in partnership with cultural and other organisations. We would like to invite you to contribute your ideas and suggestions for building on and extending our links with non-academic partners. We look forward to hearing from you.
Text by Dr Minty Donald – Performing Arts Knowledge Exchange Theme Lead, Lecturer in Contemporary Performance Practices (Theatre, Film and Television Studies)