Our research at UNSW School of the Arts & Media in theatre, performance and dance studies involves contemporary theatre and dance, interdisciplinary performance studies, creative practice-as-research and performance archives.
We’re a hub for research into making and experiencing performance in all its forms. We draw on aesthetic theory, philosophy, cultural studies, performance writing and creative practice.
We’re interested in the politics of performance, and the ways that ideas and forms of performance intersect with other cultural practices and perspectives. Much of our work focuses on arts, activism and human rights. We also explore how theatre works in non-theatrical spaces, locations and institutions like schools, hospitals, aged-care centres, prisons, immigration detention centres, and beyond.
Our researchers engage with many areas, including memory studies, refugees and asylum seekers, returned military personnel, children, cultural diversity and ageing, Indigenous training and practices and trans-Indigenous interaction and exchange, and creative activism and political protest. We also investigate how international relations intersect with performance in nightclubs, television and popular entertainment, and museum studies and visual arts. Our academics contribute to the arts and health hub within UNSW School of the Arts & Media.
Our theatre, performance and dance studies researchers contribute to our local arts ecology through relationships with Moogahlin Performing Arts, Performance Space, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks, Critical Path, Sydney Opera House, Milk Crate Theatre and PACT Centre for Emerging Artists.
We’re active in arts criticism and reviewing, and have produced publications on Australian theatre-makers such as Wesley Enoch, Roslyn Oades, Tom Holloway, Back to Back Theatre and Urban Theatre Projects. We’ve also published works on choreographers and movement artists such as Lizzie Thomson, Shelley Lasica, Gideon Obarzanek and Helen Herbertson, among others.
Our academics engage with performance practices throughout the Asia-Pacific, collaborating with artists and scholars in Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand. Further afield, our researchers have engaged with the Live Art Development Agency and Tate Modern in London and the Bertolt Brecht Archive, Hebbel am Ufer and Mobile Academy in Berlin. We work at the cutting edge of international scholarship through editorial leadership of journals such as Performance Research, Performance Philosophy, The Brecht Yearbook and Performance Paradigm.
UNSW School of the Arts & Media boasts the Esme Timbery Creative Practice Lab, a production unit with an extensive creative team and facilities to support teaching, practice-led research at honours and postgraduate levels, and artistic residencies. We support creative practice alongside scholarly research, with strengths in movement and screendance, dramaturgy and devising, performance writing and collaborative practices, theatres of the real and global Indigenous dramaturgies.
Our teaching informs and is informed by research that supports creativity and collaboration. We also undertake research into digital learning and virtual collaboration, blended learning and flipped classrooms, and practice-based learning and research.
We support research in dance through either traditional thesis or practice-as-research. Past researchers include Nalina Wait, Lisa Synnott, Gavin Clarke, Rhiannon Newton, Victoria Hunt, Lizzie Thomson and Tess De Quincey. Dance artists in residence have included Sue Healey, Meryl Tankard, Victoria Hunt, Martin del Amo and Justin Shoulder.
Our research at UNSW School of the Arts & Media engages with archival practice and documentation in the performing arts. Theatre and performance studies is a founding partner of AusStage, the online research database.
Our academics have published on digital humanities, data visualisation and network analysis in theatre research and have projects on local performance histories such as Dancing Sydney. Our archival research connects with Performance Space, Griffin Theatre Company, RealTime, ReelDance, and other organisations in Sydney. We also conduct research in international institutions such as the Bertolt Brecht Archive and Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin.
Precarious Movements: Choreography and the Museum (2021-2023) brings artists, researchers and institutions into dialogue about best-practice to support both the choreographer and the museum, and to sustain momentum in theory and practice around dance and the visual arts. We’re also working on the Dennis Wolanski Library collection through the Performance Memories Project with the UNSW Library and the Wolanski Foundation. Exhibiting archival content is an emerging research area in partnership with the UNSW Library Exhibition Space, with RealTime and Austage related exhibitions.