Centre for Performance Practice and Research Roundup 2018-19

12 Dec 2019

A roundup of 2028-19 news and events in the University's Centre for Performance Practice and Research

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Outdoor arts research at the University of Winchester: image of group of young street artists



Dec. 2019: Musical Theatre in the spotlight

The expertise of Prof. Millie Taylor, Professor of Musical Theatre, has been much in demand lately, reflecting a rising interest in musicals and musical theatre.

On 22 November, she hosted a Symposium at The Other Palace in London for 'Musical Theatre: In Process', a new project and network she is developing with Dr Sarah Browne, Head of the School of Performing Arts at Wolverhampton University. The Symposium was a knowledge exchange event attended by creative practitioners and academics. On 26 November, Prof. Taylor was an invited panel member at the BFI event The Rebirth of the TV Musical, which looked at how TV has reinvented the musical for the digital generation.

In early December, she appeared on BBC Radio 4's Front Row to review the musical Six, in which the six wives of King Henry VIII compete in a singing contest. Introduced as "Britain's premier professor of musicals", Millie was asked what she thought was the secret to its success. "It combines several things that are current", she explained." It's a combination of a pop concert and history night out, but it's also feminist, giving us more information about people who have been written out of history." Listen to the full interview.

Musical Theatre expertise at Winchester: Prof Millie Taylor speaking to an audience Nov 2019

Prof. Millie Taylor speaking at the Musical Theatre: In Process Symposium at the Other Palace in London, 22 November 2019 (image courtesy of Martin Nangle)

June 2019: One year on: celebrating a fruitful partnership in theatre and dance

The 6th of June marked the first year of Blue Apple Theatre Company's successful residency at the University. To find out more about our very fruitful collaboration with this remarkable theatre company, read the interview with Blue Apple's general manager Simon Morris.  For Blue Apple's latest play, see below under Events.

May 2019: Further Arts Council Funding for Culture and Diversity through Outdoor Arts project

John Lee , Senior Fellow in Knowledge Exchange in the Faculty of Arts and a CPPR member, has received two large new funding awards, one to create a large multicultural summer festival in Somerset and one to participate in the development of a local training programme for young people from a socially deprived area of Taunton. Together, they form part of a major two-year project titled Culture and Diversity: Outdoor Arts, funded by the Arts Council England.

John has been commissioned by Taunton Deane Borough Council to create Kaleidoscope, a culturally diverse festival with associated community engagement events. The project is funded by the Arts Council for England (£12,800) and Taunton Deane Borough Council (£13,000). At the heart of the festival will be Somerfest, Taunton’s major midsummer outdoor arts festival, on 15 July 2019. Through his not-for-profit outdoor arts company FUSE, John has a long-standing relationship with Somerfest, as well as with other multicultural festivals in the Southwest.

Fuse, which has been awarded Arts Council funding for the last six years, has also been jointly awarded £50,000 with Somerset Arts Works and the One Team for Halcon, an area with high indices of social deprivation in East and North Taunton. The focus of the collaboration is to create a training programme for local young people and young adults aimed at supporting their wellbeing, community participation and employment opportunities. As part of the project, FUSE will create workshops and community events.

On 20 June, John will give a free talk in Winchester on the benefits of outdoor arts; see below under Events.

Jan. 2019: All the world's a stage?

Are we born to play? Are our brains wired to act? Tim Prentki, Professor of Theatre for Development, argues we live our lives simultaneously as actors, characters and spectators. Read his captivating blog.



13/14/15 June 2019: The Tempest, a Blue Apple Theatre production

Shakespeare's classic story of love, magic and treachery, told with Blue Apple's trademark wit and charm. Find out more.

Tavern Talks Series

In 2018, the Faculty of Arts launched the Tavern Talks, informal talks on intriguing topics in a friendly pub setting.

20 June 2019: 'When We Watch Outdoor Arts, What Are We?’ by John Lee, Senior Fellow in Knowledge Exchange and CPPR member

Audiences for outdoor performances have grown enormously in the last twenty years. In relation to the Winchester Hat Fair, the longest-running street arts festival in the UK, John argues that outdoor arts, released from the conventions of the theatre, have not only proliferated innovative forms of performance and performing, but have also offered us new roles as audience members.

4 July: 'Can Media Marvels Turn Audiences Green?’ by Dr James Rendell, Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Media & Communication

With ever-growing concerns about climate change, deforestation, and environmental damage, to what extent can media and popular culture encourage audiences to become more eco-friendly?

St James Tavern, Romsey Road, Winchester; 17.30 drinks for 18.00 start, all welcome.

In Conversation With Series

Centre for Performance Practice and Research, In Conversation With series image of two chairs on a stage

In 2018, the CPPR launched the 'In Conversation With' Series. Each event features one member of CPPR in conversation with an invited external researcher or artist about their current research interests.

Recent In Conversation With events:

Wednesday 27 February 2019: Prof. Tim Prentki in conversation with Prof. Victor Merriman

Wednesday 27 February 2019: in conversation with Prof. Victor Merriman, Director of the Performance and Civic Futures Research Group at Edge Hill University. The focus was on a specific outcome from the Research Group: the establishment of the One Hour Theatre Company, for which Prof. Prentki has written three scripts to date. These works attempt to use connections between current political debates and Shakespeare plays to draw in audiences for whom the scripts act as discussion triggers.

So far OHTC has created A Pound of Flesh (The Merchant of Venice and The Tempest) on racism and identity, Half Measures (Measure for Measure) on trafficking and gender, Lear in Brexitland (King Lear) on identity, Britishness and the EU, and Empires’ Edge, Passions’ Pledge (Twelfth Night) on migration and power.

Wednesday 20 February: Helen Grime in conversation with Dr Michael Goron and Dr Christina Wilkins

This conversation considered the ongoing appeal and resonance of the play Gaslight by Patrick Hamilton, and the subsequent film that coined the term ‘gaslighting’: a trope which is endemic in our culture and remains a prevalent cause for concern in our society, as recent legislation against coercion and control as a form of domestic abuse suggests.

Centre for Performance Practice and Research image of Helen Grime in the play Gaslight

Helen Grime in the stage version of Gaslight

30 January 2019: Philip Stanier in Conversation with Dancer and Choreographer Sung Im Her

and Sung Im Her are currently working together on their first collaboration. Nutcrusher, a new piece by Sung Im Her with Philip in the role of Dramaturg, is a broad response to the #metoo movement. The piece premiered in Seoul on 18 January.

6 February 2019: John Lee in conversation with Deb Mullins

In this conversation, John Lee and Deb Mullins, Director of Emergency Exit Arts and chairperson of Outdoor Arts UK, discussed artistic practices, creative activism, issues of ‘place’, gender and diversity in making work in the outdoor arts sector.

13 February 2019: Dr Olu Taiwo in conversation with Freddie Opoku-Addaie

Dr Olu Taiwo’s conversation with Freddie Opoku-Addaie explored some implications that emerged from previous discussions at the Dance Umbrella International Festival in September 2018. There, Dr Taiwo shared his choreological practice of ‘Urban Butoh’, an interdisciplinary transcultural movement practice that has been developed by combining a number of performance techniques, including Japanese artists, Hironobu Oikawa’s interpretation of Antonin Artaud’s techniques, Jacques Lecoq’s mimetic technique based on open neutrality and elements of performance styles the Return beat. Dr Taiwo took part in the panel discussion curated by Opoku-Addaie, titled ‘Beyond the 3T’s – Tick box/Token/Tolerated’).

For forthcoming events, explore our Public Events Calendar. 

2018 NEWS

CPPR expertise featured in Winchester research exhibition   


CPPR member and Senior Lecturer in Drama Dr Helen Grime in the play Gaslight. Helen's research was featured in Images of Research 2018, alongside Fallout, a collaborative project by Gordon Murray, Senior Lecturer in Drama (Community Theatre & Media).

Now in its second year, Images of Research is an exhibition showcasing the excellence and impact of research across the University. Both IoR 2017 and 2018 can still be enjoyed online. Find out more.

Making a song and dance: Musical Theatre news

Hamilton's heritage

On 12 December 2018, , Lecturer in Musical Theatre, presented: The model of a modern major musical': Hamilton's Musical Theatre heritage.

Hamilton was not created within a vacuum. Instead, it is a well-crafted piece of postmodern entertainment, which relies on intertextual references to, among other things, various popular musicals. This talk therefore focussed on Hamilton’s relationship with the musical theatre canon, through direct references to other shows and broader structural or stylistic similarities. Find out more.


Book launch

Wednesday 5 December 2018 saw the launch of Theatre Music and Sound at the RSC: Macbeth to Matilda by . The book discusses an exciting laboratory that has been developing the practice of theatre music composition and sound design since 1961: the Royal Shakespeare Company. Find out more about the launch.


Prof. Millie Taylor at the RSC in Stratford, flanked by Jeremy Dunn, Head of Music, and Bruce O'Neil, Head of Sound. Image Martin Nangle.

Public lecture

On 30 November 2018, Prof. Millie Taylor presented a public lecture to a packed audience at the National Theatre in London, exploring the development of American musical theatre. The evening, which also saw live musical demonstrations, revolved around three themes:

  • From Show Boat to Les Misérables: the integration of musical theatre form 
  • From Cinderella to Shrek: love stories and quest narratives 
  • From ragtime to rap: the impact of popular music on the American musical

Professor Taylor then discussed how these three themes and story lines interact to set the scene for the new hit musical Hadestown, a 21st-century retelling of the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Underworld.

Symposium: Bridging Dance Training Contexts: Re-assessing Techniques and Skills for the Social and Cultural Sphere

Building on the Roundtable event below, the Centre hosted this symposium in Dec. 2018. It aimed to provide a wider forum to share practice and discussed issues arising within dance training in HE and FE environments, with a particular focus on issues of bridging between different contexts including educational, social and cultural. Find out more.

Roundtable event: Dance Technique and Performance Training

Dance fosters both singularity and collectivity in artistic education, offering invaluable training to operate within the immediate and interconnected contemporary professional world. Considering the impact on dance of major shifts in contemporary culture, such as the influence of media and technology on young people, this roundtable event in May 2018 sought to gather the perspectives of a wide range of dance educators and academics on issues of dance training in the UK. We examined the different approaches to dance training and their relations within and to the wider professional context. Watch the video here.

In Conversation With Series

In 2018, the CPPR launched the 'In Conversation With' Series. In the first, titled Performance and Migration, Dr Marilena Zaroulia, Senior Lecturer in Drama, welcomed Dr Emma Cox from the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance, Royal Holloway Univ. of London. This conversation took place on 20 April 2018. Watch the video here.

With some people enjoying the right to cross borders freely while many others have to find 'illegal' ways of fleeing war, poverty, prosecution and climate change, what kinds of artistic responses are generated in response to migration? Drawing on their individual and joint research, Emma and Marilena discussed various recent examples of performance and visual arts which engage with refugees and migration. They considered the role of images and words in this context, while probing some of the difficult feelings that art about migration often elicits. Watch the video here.


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