PANEL 1: Practice (documenting) Research

PANEL 1: Practice (documenting) Research

Thursday 14th January 2016 – 11:50AM-1:20PM – Rehearsal Room 2


  • My camp is not your camp. Your camp is mine: Lip-synching as a practical method of inquiry. Simon Dodi


This paper interrogates the methods of practical inquiry undertaken as research: lip-synching and re-gesturing past performers. I will argue that lip-synching, as a method of practice, has informed as well as challenged my research trajectory. By using the performance Keep Calm and Carry on Camping (2015) presented at the Collisions: a Festival of Performance Practice as Research (RCSSD), as a case study for where practice is situated in my research. In this performance, archive footage of past camp men performing their “camp” (Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howerd and Larry Grayson) was projected onto my performing body. As I lip-synched sections, and as these were repeated, the audience were able to see the process of re-enactment in the performance. In considering why certain assumptions were made prior to the practical inquiry, I shall look at how lip-synching functions in the drag performer Lypsinka, as well as the more contemporary performances of the Theo Adams Company and Dickie Beau. I shall then look at what lip-synching has achieved in this research so far. Through the methods of lip-synch, how can ‘the past’ as Rebecca Schneider in Performing Remains (2001) suggests, ‘disrupt the present’ (14). By using the performance of the camp man as a case study, this paper argues overall, how the practice of lip-synching as a method of inquiry has informed, challenged, and furthered my research.

Simon Dodi is a performer and performance maker. He is a PhD candidate at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where his research is in the subject of camp, focusing specifically on the performance and performative aspects of the male camp identity.

  • Performance as Archive: reflections of a practitioner-researcher / researcher-practitioner. Mary-Louise Crawley


After several years ‘in practice’ as an independent choreographer, I recently returned to academic research and am currently exploring how much weight to give to the practice elements underpinning, informing, challenging and extending the written research elements of my PhD thesis. In my practice as an artist, I define myself as a practitioner-researcher; as a PhD student, am I then a researcher-practitioner? What hierarchies between practice and research exist in this apparently simple ‘symbiosis’?

Such interrogations sit quite neatly as a mise-en-abyme of wider questions of ‘creative archive research’ (Gale & Featherstone, 2010) that I am investigating as part of my PhD research topic: namely, dance in the museum. My research questions the ontology of the museum (the archive) and the place of dance (the ephemeral) within that; this problematic of the binary notion of performance as ephemeral and archive as permanent has of course been widely investigated and questioned (Phelan,1993; Schneider, 2001; Taylor 2003; Schneider 2011). It is Schneider’s 2011 emphasis on ‘the archive as another kind of performance’ which provides a discursive framework for my own practice-based research.

The concept of archive as living performance and performance as living archive – echoing Lepecki’s ‘body as archive’ (2010) – is most interesting to me. Indeed, I argue not only for ‘practice / performance as research’ as a methodology, but also for a concept of ‘practice / performance as archive’. As a case study to illustrate this, I will look at my own practice/research with performance ensemble Avid for Ovid, whose work aims to interrogate contemporary performance as ‘living’, moving archive for the ancient Roman dance form tragoedia saltata*. For this project, where fully embodied and ‘present’ performance acts as a filter for past texts and past forms, and where a moving body becomes quite literally a living archive for an ancient, ‘dead’ choreographic form, I ask whether it is indeed possible for the moving body to simultaneously filter the past and embody the present? Can performance really be an alternative archive? If it can, what else does it reveal -to both research and to practice?

*In 2013-4, I was a participating choreographer-practitioner in a University of Oxford TORCH research project entitled  ‘Ancient Dance in Modern Dancers’, exploring contemporary re-interpretations of this ancient Roman dance form. Avid for Ovid developed as an independent offshoot from this research project.”

Educated at the University of Oxford (B.A. Hons, M.St.) and trained at the Ecole Marceau in Paris, Marie-Louise began her professional performance career with Ariane Mnouchkine’s Theatre du Soleil (2003-2009). Since 2010, she has been working in the UK as an independent choreographer and dance artist with companies as diverse as Birmingham Opera Company, Marc Brew, Gary Clarke, Ballet Cymru and Rosie Kay Dance Company. Recent new work has included pieces for a Tate / ARTIST ROOMS exhibit at mac Birmingham, as well as for performance ensemble Avid for Ovid at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Marie-Louise is a PhD student at C-DaRE (Coventry University) researching dance in the museum.

  • Performative Lecture: Affective Documentation in Perplexpedition. Robbie Z. Wilson


How does the documentation of your practice fuel your research? And vice versa?

The fabric of my Practice Research is woven from multiple strands; some of which are inextricable from their documentation, yet each of which cannot ever be fully documented.

My project explores the potential for performance to facilitate playful interactions between people and their everyday environments. The performance modes I employ are: spontaneous intervention in public space, interactive podcast, and performative workshop.

I have named my nascent methodology Popular Participatory Peripatetic Performance, or 4P for short. I propose a performative lecture that focusses on the intervention strand: Perplexpedition, so called because it is perplexing and it is an expedition. The presentation will explore the challenges, opportunities, and insights afforded by the processes and products of the interventions’ documentation, as well as the profound effect that this has had on the Practice Research as a whole.

The creation of videos is structurally fundamental to Perplexpedition, offering far more than mere documentation. The video editing process, a practice in its own right, has allowed me to explore my role as performer-facilitator (which I refer to using the playful neologism ‘perfilitator’) and to deploy my own intrasubjectivity, as I comment on my own performance as well as those of performer-participants (or ‘perficipants’). The resulting artworks document the live event and tease out the affective experiences of perficipants whilst introducing another ludic dimension to the practice. This dimension emerges from the dialectic interplay between my affective engagement in the moment of interaction with perficipants and that of my later interaction with the raw footage. The processes and products of documentation together drive the project forward whilst simultaneously affording both detailed analysis and dissemination of the Practice Research to audiences within the academy as well as far beyond via online platforms.

Robbie has been performing since the age of three. He has wowed crowds in circus tents with his horse-prancing skills. He has shuddered on a pylon in Jeeves & Wooster and ridden a bike in Judge John Deed. He studied stand-up comedy with Olly Double at Kent and acting with Andrea Brooks at East 15. In 2014, he embarked on a sensible research project. Within weeks, he changed his mind and now endeavours to cobble together a Ph.D. from various attempts to weave the ludicrous into everyday life.