My research in the areas of Theatre, Performance, Live Art and Library and Information Science (LIS) is strongly interdisciplinary, drawing on theories, critical perspectives and practice-based methodologies from the areas of:
immersive theatre and immersion in theatre;
theatre and history;
web-based political discourse;
performative identities in cyberspace; and
These diverse areas all address my longstanding interest in the changing definition of ‘liveness’ as a medium distinct from recorded or overtly technologically mediated events.
LIS plays a fundamentally important role in my research. As a Lecturer in Library and Information Science at City, University of London, my research is focused on investigating how immersive theatre presents risks and opportunities for engendering modes of audience participation that either denude participants of critical agency by absorbing them as dramaturgical content or, conversely, activate them as nodes in a networked thinking event. Concepts of the postdigital and theoretical engagements with new and emerging document formats presents important questions for how performance is experienced in a hyper-networked society.
These issues and other related topics are explored in the DocPerform project that I lead with Dr Lyn Robinson. DocPerform considers the documentation of performance and the extent to which performance may itself be considered as a document, from a multidisciplinary perspective. The project is part of the wider consideration of the future of documents undertaken by members of CityLIS.
The field of LIS offers key insights into how immersion constitutes more than a performance medium. Technological developments are causing significant shifts in concepts of artist/audience and document/reader. The development of new critical perspectives are necessary to understand how the ‘participatory turn’ in theatre and wider society impacts modes of production and reception.
The boom in immersive theatre (or just ‘immersive experiences’) resonates with Luciano Floridi’s conception of the infosphere: a pervasive information environment where anything can be connected to anything (Floridi, The 4th Revolution, 2014). The mobile web turns the offline world into an informational environment where medial boundaries collapse. This digital world is producing a culture where participation is valued more highly than spectating.
I am currently writing an article for a special issue of Studies in Theatre and Performance-‘Performance and the Right: Strategies and Subterfuges’. The article proposes that audience participation in the performances One Day, Maybe (2017) and Operation Black Antler (2016-2019) acted as a performative counter force against populist imaginaries of (culturally superior) nationalist identities and (mythic) historical realities.