Dr Marianne Sharp is Senior Lecturer in Drama. Prior to working in academia, she worked as an actor primarily in touring theatre in the UK and continental Europe, and as a director of youth theatre and applied theatre projects (including 3 years directing/devising/writing theatre pieces with young people at Theatre Royal Winchester; and directing Timberlake Wertenbaker's 'Our Country's Good' for Playing for Time Theatre in Winchester Prison).
Completing her practice-based PhD: ‘Being a Woman Twice: Knowledge, Subjectivity and the Autonomous Actress’ at Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2010, she continues to perform, direct and is in the process of publishing a series of articles developed from her thesis. Since the beginning of 2011, she has been travelling to Los Angeles as often as possible to research on and train with Rachel Rosenthal and her company (Extreme Theater Ensemble), who create completely improvised 'total theatre' performances called 'TOHUBOHU!' This work is ongoing.
She welcomes research applications in the areas of contemporary theatre practice and feminisms and theatre.
Areas of expertise
- Contemporary theatre practice (performing, directing, devising)
- Performance and autobiography
- Feminisms and theatre
- Performance and identity politics.
Sharp M. Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker: Creating Liberatory Spaces? Reflections on Process and Performance (Director’s reflections on the process of staging Wertenbaker’s play inWinchester (Adult Male) Prison, with a cast of prisoners and undergraduate students. Chapter 8 in Playing For Time Theatre Company: Perspectives From the Prison. Eds. Annie McKean and Kate Massey-Chase. Intellect: Bristol (UK) and Chicago (USA) 2018, pp.145 165.
- "Acting Operatically: Body, Voice and the Actress in Beckett's Theater". Gestures of Musical Theater: The Performativity of Song and Dance. Eds. Dominic Symonds and Millie Taylor. Oxford University Press, 2013, pp.191 207, 2013.
- "Whose Fantasy? Five Perspectives on The Rachel Rosenthal Company's TOHUBOHU!", Encountering Ensemble. Ed. John Britton. Methuen/Bloomsbury, 2013. https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/encountering-ensemble-9781408152003/
- "Acting Ethically? Subjectivity and the Actress in Geddy Aniksdal's No Doctor for the Dead", in 'Beyond Postmodernisms' Special Edition of Contemporary Theatre Review 18.3, 2008, pp. 370-382.
Conference Report on Beyond Postmodernisms Symposium, Research in Drama Education (RIDE), Vol. 11, No. 1, February 2006, pp.126 129. Symposium hosted by Birkbeck College, London, September 2005.
Continuum Movement Workshop exploring ‘Porosity and the body of the Actor’, presented at International Somatics Symposium (on Teaching Somatic Practice in Higher Education), University College Cork, Republic of Ireland, July 2019. Funded by Learning and Teaching Excellence Award, University of Winchester.
Love and Rigour - A Biographical Dilemma. Paper asking how we might write with love and rigour about the work of the artist, with specific regard to Rachel Rosenthal’s practice, including her work with her improvisation company, Extreme Theatre Ensemble, and how the kind of listening/sensing that is present in her ensemble practice opens up spaces of imagination that pertain to the manifestation of love in the therapeutic space, as articulated in the writings of Julia Kristeva. Theatre and Historiography Working Group, Theatre and Performance Research Association, (TaPRA), University of Bristol, September 2016.
Creating Liberatory Spaces? Directing ‘Our Country’s Good’ in Winchester Prison. University of Winchester Research and Knowledge Exchange Event, April 2016.
Nora and I Autobiography, Memory, Character: Exhibitor in Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Practice-as-Research Exhibition, TaPRA Conference, University of Worcester, UK, September 2015. https://tapraexhibition2015.wordpress.com/exhibitors/marianne-sharp/
Women, Theatre, Autobiography: Politics and the Personal. Public talk at Theatre Royal Winchester, UK (pre-show talk before a performance). October 2013.
Acting Operatically: Voice, Body and the Actress in Beckett’s Happy Days. Talk given at University College Santa Barbara (UCSB), Santa Barbara, California. April 2012. https://www.ihc.ucsb.edu/acting-operatically/
- Resisting Repeatability: mindfulness, ethics and the Failure of Production in Rachel Rosenthal’s TOHUBOHU! TaPRA: Performance, Identity, Community Working Group. Kingston University, UK, September 2011.
- Acting Authentically? The construction of presence and identity in Nora and I and The Twice-Removed. TaPRA: Performance, Identity, Community Working Group. Cardiff University, UK, September 2010.
- Acting Operatically: ‘Fiona Shaw finds her voice ‘after God died and nobody knew who they were talking to anymore.’ Song, Stage and Screen V (Interdisciplinary Approaches to Voice International conference). University of Winchester, UK, September 2010.
- Repetition, Knowledge and the Actor. Paper and workshop. Performance-as-Research Working Group at International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) Annual Conference, Munich, July 2010.
- Nakedly Democratic Hanky Panky with Ursula Martinez. Performance, Identity, Community Working Group at Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Annual Conference, University of Plymouth, UK, September 2009.
- Ghosting Myself: Character, Memory and Presence in Nora and I. Paper on my final PhD solo performance, delivered as an artist dialogue with Dr Cathy Turner at the Performing Presence International Conference, Exeter University, UK, March 2009.
- Conceptualising Performer Intuition, delivered through 20th-21st Century Performer Training Group at TaPRA Annual Conference, Birmingham University, UK, September, 2007.
- Writing Strangers and Sel/f/ves: the actress as foreigner within and without her own words, at the Women’s Writing for Performance International Symposium, Lancaster University, UK, April 2006.
- INSecure Institutions: Prison Theatre: subversive or normative activity? Joint paper and presentation with Annie McKean, at Performance and Possibility Conference, Liverpool Hope University, UK, September 2005.
The Earth Fugue. Devised/collaborative theatre project with Year 2 Undergraduate students (University of Winchester). This project, beginning with writings by Robert Macfarlane, asked questions about climate change, and why the arts in the anthropocene age struggle to make work that speaks effectively to the problems of climate change. Autumn 2016.
Pots, Pans and Protests. Devised theatre project created in collaboration with dramaturg, Dr Marilena Zaroulia, and Year 2 Undergraduate students (University of Winchester). In this PaR project we explored the relationship between theatre and the history of social protest, asking questions such as ‘How does change happen?’; ‘What is the cycle of change?’; ‘How can we represent and harness the cycle of change in the theatre space?’. Autumn 2015.
- If Looks Could Kill. Devised theatre project created in collaboration with Year 2 Undergraduate students and Dr Stevie Simkin based on his research on the figure of the femme fatale in film noir and theatre. I then developed this piece with the students in the Spring of 2015 for presentation at the British Conference for Undergraduate Research. It was presented to a full audience of delegates from 17 countries. Autumn 2014 and Spring 2015.
- Artist/Performer-creator, Nora and I (SharpTheatre, 2014). Responding to Ibsen’s Nora, this devised, theatre work explores the relationship between autobiography and the performance of dramatic character. Project development involved workshops with local women aged 23-82, comparing Nora’s story with contemporary experiences and stories. In this way the autobiographical slant of the work also engages with the relationship between identity and community. R&D funding: Arts Council England. Collaborators: Catherine Church (Platform 4); Doug Hammett (visual/theatre artist, member of the Rachel Rosenthal Company, USA). Performed at venues in the UK and in Los Angeles, California.
Aqua Vitae. Devised production with Year 2 undergraduates. We began looking at some of the structures in some of Beckett’s short plays alongside a consideration of Rachel Rosenthal’s ‘autobiology’ and how to ‘write’ our bodies as landscape. We ended up creating a piece about rising sea levels in our world, using aspects of the myth of the lost city of Atlantis. We asked why it is so difficult for people in our time to confront harsh environmental truths and how to perform this ‘thing’ that we cannot look directly in the eye We built Atlantis out of 1200 plastic cups. Autumn 2013.
Performer/collaborator in ‘Sweet Shop’, by visual/theatre artist Doug Hammett. This performance was presented within a lighting installation at Nye&Brown Gallery, Culver City, Los Angeles, July 2013. https://doughammett.net/www.doughammett.com/Theatre/Pages/Sweet_Shop.html#16
- Director, Our Country's Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker. Playing for Time Theatre, HMP Winchester, March - May 2013. Large cast (30) of prisoners and undergraduate students from the University of Winchester. For notes on the process see: http://www.playingfortime.org.uk/ourcountry13.html
- ‘Memory is a Strange thing’ (with Doug Hammett) and ‘This Way Up’ (with Leigh Grode) short pieces devised as part of a 10 week intensive with Rachel Rosenthal for ‘Internal Bleeding’, at Espace DbD, Los Angeles, April 2012.
- And Yet It Moves. Devised Production project exploring questions of mobility and motion, extending the explorations about ‘keeping the space moving’ made during the process of San Diego (below). 2011.
- David Greig’s San Diego. Production Project with undergraduate theatre students, University of Winchester. Collaboration with Marilena Zaroulia (Dramaturg). The production explored questions of travelling and globalisation in relation to Jill Dolan’s notion of the ‘utopian performative’ and worked with ensemble practices, to discover ways of ‘keeping the space moving’ throughout the production. Partly funded by a Learning and Teaching Fellowship Award from the University. 2010.
- Failing Chekhov. Devised production project exploring the relationship between nature and theatricality. Responding to Chekhov’s The Seagull. With 2nd year theatre undergraduates (University of Winchester). 2010.
- The Twice Removed. Guest direction/dramaturgy for Anna Fenemore/Pigeon Theatre (Manchester) on solo theatre project exploring Lacan’s notion of ‘extimacy’ in ‘biographical’ performance. Funded by Arts Council England and supported by GreenRoom, Manchester. 2010, UK tour 2012.
- Alone Among Mortals. Devised project utilising post-Grotowskian ensemble physical theatre practices. Layering of bodywork, text and song in response to Sophocles Antigone. With 2nd year theatre undergraduates (University of Winchester). 2009.
- Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good, Playing for Time Theatre Company, HMP West Hill Winchester (cast of prisoners from Winchester prison and undergraduates from University of Winchester); funded by Arts Council England and Ernest Cook Trust; Producer: Annie McKean. 2005
- Juliet’s Dream III (Direction and performance. Devised work, SharpTheatre, short tour); PaR physical theatre project exploring different levels of ‘performer sel/f/ves’ from ‘not-acting’ to ‘heightened-acting’. Developed from earlier Juliet’s Dream pieces. Funded by HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Fund) grant. 2003.
- Sarah Kane’s Crave (Direction), Pendfringe at the Gateway Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival (3, 4 and 5 star reviews), following performances at Theatre Royal Winchester. 2002-2003).
- Juliet’s Dream and Juliet’s Dream II (devised/physical works, SharpTheatre, Theatre Royal Winchester). Project utilising actor-led post-Grotowskian ensemble physical theatre approaches in conjunction with Cixousian notions of writing-the-body. Working with text from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. 2002-2003.