Intersections 2017 – Panel 5

Panel 5: “Retrieving References”

Friday 20th January – 11:30-13:30 – Rehearsal Room 7


  1. “Silence in the Archive”: (Re)covering the Sound of Early Radio Drama (Farokh Soltani)


Radio drama pioneer Lance Sieveking lamented ‘the ghastly impermanence’ (1933: 1) of the medium: the orchestrated structures of sound created in numerous studios and broadcast live to thousands of homes simply ceased to exist once the credits had been read. The evanescence inherent within the aural medium further complicates the matter: what remains of the productions – scripts, photographs, budget sheets – is silent, and does not give much indication of how they would have sounded. With recorded programming not in fashion at the BBC until the post-war era, most of the sounds of early radio are lost to us, and so too, therefore, are possible alternative aesthetic and sonic trajectories which the conventions of radio dramaturgy could have taken.

In this sound-paper, I argue that the ‘silence’ of the methods of archiving is, in fact, a key factor in the formation of conventional British radio dramaturgy. Drawing from debates on ocularcentrism and sound and through analyses of early radio productions, I propose that the absence of efficient methods of reproducing or discussing sound meant that some forms of radio production, relying on codification rather than sonic expression, were privileged. A change in modes of dramaturgy, I argue, requires a change in modes of archiving, and referring to sounds.


Farokh Soltani spent the first quarter-century of his life attempting to be the jack-of-all-trades of the Iranian culture industry; he wrote and directed short films, translated plays, and designed sound for film, theatre, and one particularly annoying mobile phone ad. He then moved to the UK to study Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at RCSSD, and liked it so much that he decided to stay until someone kicks him out; as of November 2016, this is yet to happen, and he is now completing his PhD on radio dramaturgy and working as a visiting lecturer on various courses, including said Master’s – how times change!


  1. Negotiating References: Creating an Epic theatre production of G.B. Shaw’s Pygmalion (Aisling Smith)


This paper explores the role of references and referencing in relation to a Practice as Research project: the creation of an Epic Theatre production of Pygmalion. Central to this directing project, which sought, through the application of Epic Theatre techniques, to draw out the current relevancy of the play for a contemporary Irish audience, is the negotiation of references. in order for the one-hundred-year-old play-text, Pygmalion, to tell a current social narrative, Shaw’s detailed political and social references to class, gender, and identity norms needed to be translated for a contemporary audience; as one might give a contemporary monetary figure to a sum of old depreciated, and all but forgotten, currency.  Further to this was the need to negotiate the fact that the play, written in reference to the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, is today synonymous with its musical and cinematic adaptation, My Fair Lady. This paper charts this process, focusing specifically on the creation of Brecht’s gestus or getic moments within the performance, and draws on the writings of Vicki R. Kennell, Elin Diamond, David Barnett, Nadine Holdsworth and Bertolt Brecht.


Aisling Smith is in the second year of her PhD in Drama and Theatre Studies in NUI Galway. Her PhD project, Re-directing George Bernard Shaw: Exploring Shaw’s Play-Texts for Contemporary Audiences through Practice as Research, seeks to draw out the contemporary relevancy of Shaw’s play-texts through the application of diverse directing and staging techniques. Aisling has an MA in Text and Performance from RADA and Birkbeck, University of London and four years experience as a freelance director and playwright. For her last PaR project she directed and produced a site-specific performance of Shaw’s O’Flaherty V.C. at Coole Park, County Galway.  


  1. The Lips and the Incredulity of St. Thomas The role of reference, citation and adaptation in the emergence of new aesthetic (Lior Lerman)


In this essay I argue that acts of reference, citation and adaptation play a key role in historic moments of artistic innovation, in the emergence of new aesthetic styles and art forms, and in the ability to establish new conventions in any aesthetic medium. This argument is developed through an analogy between the stylistic, thematic and material innovations introduced in Italian painting, in the 16th and 17th centuries, by artists such as Caravaggio and da Vinci, and between the conventions of performance art and fine art established in the 1960s and 70s by artists such as Joesph Beuys, Vito Acconci and Marina Abramovic.
In her book The Transformative Power of Performance (2008) Erika Fishcer-Lichte begins her analysis of the specific aestheticity of performance with a discussion of Marina Abramovic’s performance Lips of Thomas (1875/2005). This event, according to Fischer-Lichte, was ‘Neither envisioned nor legitimized by the traditions and standards of the visual or performing arts’ (Fischer-Lichte, 2008; 11). I aim to undermine this assertion by offering a plausible analysis of Abramovic’s performance as an unintended adaptation of Caravaggio’s painting The Incredulity of St. Thomas (1601-1602). This analysis is based in part on Michael Fried’s lecture series published in his book The Moment of Caravaggio (2010). In so doing I will argue that despite Fischer-Lichte’s statement to the contrary, Abramovic’s ability to innovate and to establish new conventions relies on the authority she derives from the cultural and religious institutions she references, and from her ability to adapt the material, stylistic and thematic conventions embedded in the cultural artefacts that these institutions have produced throughout their history.


Lior Lerman is a visual artist and performance maker. She is also currently a PhD candidate at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Her creative practice examines questions of meaning and storytelling at the fulcrum between the analogue and the digital realms. Her academic enquiry introduces the study of media ecology (McLuhan studies) to the field of performance research thereby re-problematizing concepts of mediality in the context of performance art. Before coming to London, she studied at the school of Visual Theatre in Jerusalem. In 2011 She moved to London and graduated from the MA program in Performance Practices and Research at Central in 2012. Her award winning performances are performed in festivals around the world.


  1. Of Absence and Reading into Silence (Adelina Ong)

How does one reference the silenced?

What does referencing the silenced do?
If I reference those who have been silenced,

am I displaying contempt for those who silenced them?
If I list all the words that have been interpreted

to serve the interests of those who silence – am I being contemptuous?
Visiting ghosts speak in broken sentences.

In my dream I could not tell the questions from the answers.

…no heaven is imaginary, but they have to be imagined.

Your prayer is both the falling feather and two open palms, uplifted (Sa’at 2008: 23).
How does one speak the language of cities?

‘Somewhere in the static of the universe I misplaced a belonging. Lost a name’ (Wang 2000).
This presentation will reflect on absences – references I have chosen to acknowledge in passing but nothing more.
As the stories and hopes of the silenced create new place

meshed with existing practices and emotions in place, some voices will be selectively forgotten.

This presentation will read into moments of silence

by referencing people who were silenced, discredited or dismissed.
It is hoped that their experiences will expand imaginations of the future.

‘These are my love letters to you’. (Ibid.)
Sa’at, A. (2008) A History Of Amnesia: Poems, Singapore, Ethos Books.
Meiyin, W. (2000) Postcards from Persephone, Singapore, unpublished script fragment.


Adelina’s research looks at how parkour, breakin’ (breakdancing) and graffiti might create compassionate mobilities for young people in Singapore. She has been active in Singapore’s theatre scene from 1997, as a performer and co-organising interdisciplinary street x art festivals such as Pulp (2003). As an applied theatre practitioner, she managed an interdisciplinary, free arts school for low-income children and youths. She currently serves on the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Executive Committee as one of two Postgraduate Representatives.