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Painting and PhD.

Hello all, only a few days over the week limit I try to keep to between posts. In all fairness I have been working very hard, finished the painting above yesterday which I should hopefully get some money from soonish. (Commissions always welcome). And as well as generally baking/cooking up a week or so's worth of food on a £10 budget I have been working on my PhD proposal. I did promise to put some of it up in case there was a modicum of interest out there, so see below for a rough outline of my intentions. On a general note I have also been getting quite interested in maths recently, ideas about infinity started it off, there's something very pure about maths, it sort of underscores everything in the universe- any science can be reduced to mathematics eventually, or rather ultimately relies on the laws of maths. An interesting fact I found out yesterday in fact was that apparently quantum energy levels in certain atoms, London parking, the vibrations of a quartz sphere when struck with a ball bearing, and the bus timetable of a city in Mexico are all governed by prime numbers. Governed is perhaps not the right word, occur in the same incidence of maybe. But yes, fascinating, elegant and difficult stuff. I like! Otherwise I'm just getting on with it. Still lots of things hanging around my future which are hopefully going to happen. I daren't even hope for this PhD studentship sometimes, because of how very much I want it. The workshopped reading of a 20 min section of either Eismas or Being Someone Else by Scary Little Girls is happening in London on the 1st of May, and I'm (still) waiting for my Royal Court feedback. After that a redraft of Eismas and sending it off to some theatres by late summer I think. So yes, all go. Hopefully soon (at least with a stroke of luck in getting a job pretty smartish after moving back home for the summer) I should be able to have just a little bit of spare cash and even, even take a break to somewhere like Scarborough! I can dream... Hope all are well, thanks for reading,

Hannah Nicklin - Research Proposal
(All of this is
© Hannah Nicklin 2009)

Theatre and Technology

The scope of the topic: Theatre and Technology will look at technology as both vehicle and subject matter in contemporary theatre. On the one hand the study will look at the true (as opposed to gimmick-driven) use of technology in theatre, particularly in a political and educational context, and on the other it will consider how theatre-writing can address the changing face of human social-interaction in a ‘Web 2.0’ world. The study will work towards theorising and testing a series of new models and genres for the application of technology in theatre and within theatrical storytelling. I intend that this research will form a fundamental and relevant collection of methods and theorisation of how theatre can react and adapt to new media.

Methods/approach/theory: The research will take the form of a 60:40 theory:practice split. The theory will be developed out of a philosophical (mainly phenomenological and semiotic) starting point and will converge with reading on narrative in technology, identity and social media, gender/race studies, applied theatre, and colonialism in a theatrical context. The research will then drive an investigation into two main areas; the use of technology in theatre, and how the experience of technology is portrayed in theatre. From here the two strands will be developed via discussion with the current theatrical world.

The first part of Theatre and Technology will examine how applied theatre can reap the benefits of gender/race/class and youth activism in the context of new technology, and how the democratising power of the internet can be harnessed in a live theatrical framework in order to speak to new audiences. Following on from a theoretical starting point the ideas will be informed by direct interviews with theatre practitioners and participants, taking in projects ranging from the National Theatre’s live streaming programme, to C&T Theatre’s innovative use of technology and theatre in learning. There will also be a dedicated online space and social networking presence for the thesis in order to allow debate and discussion, and the testing of theories in practice.

In the second part of the study, the thesis will move on from the theory to look at the ‘bracketed’ aspect of live performance, and how the tension between identity, reality and story is imitated in technology. The study will question how far mainstream theatre-writing has delved into modern ideas of identity, loneliness, and being, and work to develop new modes and genres in order to examine the problems inherent in telling the stories of the contemporary world.

The practice will interweave between these two parts, testing theories of technology in theatre as a socio-political tool, as well as developing a body of theatre-writing examining contemporary models and genres, allowing theatre new ways of examining identity and human interaction in the age of web 2.0. The applied theatre writing will be developed alongside current practising companies, and the creative writing will be showcased in a ‘testing ground’ of invited professionals and non-professionals in a dedicated space at the Royal Court Theatre, to which I have access through my work on their Young Writers Programme.

Plan of work: In June 2009 I will be working with Pilot Theatre on the live streaming and tweeting of their Shift Happens 2.0 conference. This conference will bring together theatre professionals, critics and academics (including the National Theatre, Lyn Gardner, C&T Theatre, Hoipolloi, the Cornerhouse, Charlie Leadbeater and more) to discuss technology in theatre - from live streaming and social networking, to genuine interactivity with the creative and performative processes. I intend to use this event to make contacts, and ground my ideas about theatre and technology in the realities of theatre-making from the outset. The thesis will then develop a highly theoretical base, working on the phenomenology and semiotics of theatre, how it is suited to the exploration of virtual worlds, as well considering the democratising and educational potential of technology in the face of the new media revolution. After a period of reading and developing ideas I will test them in practice through interviews with practitioners and participants, as well as developing and workshopping creative writing, and testing new applied theatre ideas in their intended context. I will continue to keep in touch with the theatre profession, throughout all of my work and use a dedicated web space as an area to develop and openly debate my ideas and findings in order to produce work that is technologically current, and practically relevant. This process of theorising and testing will naturally occur several times as I redevelop and refine my ideas and begin to present my work.

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