Dan Barnard, 10 January 2016

Collaborations with Drama Departments

There are models where a theatre company comes and works with a year group or

class in the second or third years. This introduces the students to new practices, to

working in a professional environment and allows the theatre company to earn some

money and also potentially to develop their practice. Kiln theatre do this for example.

This also can help students understand the merits in forming a theatre company.

Wolverhampton work with Jasmine Vardimon company. De Montfort in Leicester have

a close relationship with the Curve. The Curve find it creatively exciting to work with

the large casts.

There were comments from some theatre artists who had been asked to audition the

students which felt odd for a devised project that all the students would end up being

in anyway.

Chichester university do lots of mutual support with theatre artists and could be sector

leaders in this. They offer support, space, etc. For students’ final pieces each student

has a professional mentor. They also pay professionals to go and see the students’

final showcases.

There was discussion of setting up joint MAs. Some had found it “Kafkaesque

negotiating the university system and it had taken 3 years. Others argued this was

quick. We discussed how an MA could be made that might authentically represent a

company’s process without it all having to be taught by the core company members

themselves and how this might work.

Collaborations with non Drama Departments

Phelim McDermott has worked with some scientists and opera singers to teach

avatars how to recognise and diagnose dementia from eye movements more quickly

than was previously possible (check the exact details of this).

Edinburgh university English department have worked with professional theatre

directors and actors to reconsctruct past productions e.g from Tudor times e.g the

Satire of the Three Estates – and learned a lot from both the rehearsals and

performance and the practical insights the professionals brought to how the texts

worked in performance. This was an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

funded project.

It was discussed how research council supported projects needed to demonstrate

Impact, which people said had similarities to the Arts Council’s Public Benefit but could

also be about affecting an industry or government policy etc as well a members of the


A Sound and Fury project (Going Dark?) was discussed which had partly emerged

from one of the artists spending 6 months embedded in a university so that the

science they had learned flowed through the form of the show itself as well as the


We discussed how important it was that they researcher and theatre artists felt equally

that they would benefit/learn from a project and had respect for the importance of each

other’s work e.g that the researcher didn’t just think of the theatre as a funky way to

explain their research (like a glorified human graph) and that the theatre artists saw

the collaboration as deeper than the researcher just coming in and giving one talk. We

discussed the importance of discussing and planning how the collaboration would


Nicola O’Shaunessey (spelling?) was mentioned as an autism expert in an academic

context and Kelly Hunter from Flute theatre as someone who had done exciting work

on Shakespeare with children who have autistic spectrum condition.

Two fanSHEN projects were discussed – one in which a study of audience behaviour

during an interactive piece with no performers (Invisible Treasure) had been studied

by academics from Goldsmiths computing department (supported by Creativeworks

London, an AHRC scheme) to feed into the next iteration of the show. Also a future

project which is being made in collaboration with a neuroscientists, which will also be

highly interactive. The time taken to build these relationships of mutual understanding

was discussed.

People Present at the discussion included:

Dan Barnard

Charles Craggs

Gavin Thatcher

Roisin Caffrey

Ellie Griffits

Grame Rose

Antonio Ferrara

Ollie Dawson

Connor Nolan

Gregory Thompson

Anthony Lee

Lucy Foster

Giuseppe Belli

J P Houghton

Jo Crowley

Caroline Horton


Autism, universities, autism, AHRC, students, university, University, Welcome Trust,

fanSHEN, Students, MA