Abstract: Taking any written text through rehearsal towards performance requires diligence, patience, and incremental iteration. In the case of historically distant drama, the process is more difficult because the text was first performed in architectural and scenographic environments that no longer survive, by playing companies that bear little resemblance to modern actors and directors; moreover, literary and dramaturgical aspects of authorship are frequently figurative, allegorical, and embedded within sets of cultural understanding, theatrical practice, individual imagination, and collective experience that are difficult adequately to reconstruct. So how can we attempt to re-stage historical drama today? This keynote address triangulates three research areas – historiographical examination of early modern plays in performance; modern systems of rehearsal; and translation theory – in order to consider how concepts of 'linguistic hospitality', 'thick translation', and 'translational and performative community' can aid theatre professionals in developing work fine-tuned for historically distant material.
Citation: Billing, Christian M., ‘Historiography, Rehearsal Processes, and Performance as Translation; or, How to Stage Early Modern English Drama Today?’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/par/ChristianMBilling.htm.
Abstract: This keynote address focuses on intersections between performance as research, publication, and pedagogy. It argues for innovative approaches to form in order to represent and articulate the complexities of such intersections. Further, it argues for a mode of practice that seeks actively to exploit such intersections and interactions. Finally, the address considers each of the points of this triangle as potential and (potent) origin points for creative and critical enquiry and practice.
Citation: Conkie, Rob, ‘'Fain would I dwell on form': Performance / Publication / Pedagogy’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/par/RobConkie.htm.
Abstract: This paper examines Practice-based Research (PbR) as a tool for early period theatre history, arguing for a distinction between PbR and its near relation, Practice as Research (PAR) in terms of the relationship of practice to knowledge-dissemination. In the first part of the paper, I consider the role PbR has played in my own work, and present a preliminary methodology for the application of performance workshops in the study of medieval performance literature. In the second half of the paper, I describe the outcomes of a recent workshop focused on the Northampton Abraham and Isaac and demonstrate the value of PbR for early performance history.
Citation: Jenkins, Jacqueline, ‘Practice-based Research and Early Period Theatre Histories: A Performance Methodology’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/par/JacquelineJenkins.htm.
Abstract: This essay considers The Three Ladies of London from a Performance or Practice as Research point of view. It introduces the concept of Practice-as-Research, highlighting its use as a mode of discovery of productive textual problems that are not usually spotted in the course of a more traditional close reading. It then considers some of the textual problems in The Three Ladies of London, especially its characters' relationships with their own identities, with the play's plot and with its audience. It also considers the play's lack of the kind of deictic language usually endemic to the early modern script-writing process and its status as a comedy in which somebody dies, reminding us that the 1580s lacked the kind of genre practice we now associate with the period because of the influential demarcations made on the title page of Shakespeare's 1623 play collection. Using these considerations, the essay charts the scope for actorly choice written into the heart of this play script.
Citation: Kesson, Andy, ‘Acting out of Character: a Performance-as-Research Approach to The Three Ladies of London’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/par/AndyKesson.htm.
Abstract: McMaster University’s The Three Ladies of London conference engages with Wilson’s early modern dramatic text through Performance as Research (PAR). The archival recordings that make up this PAR moment reside in, and are accessed from, their digital home on the Queen’s Men Editions website (QME). Within the wider academic community, however, PAR has yet to achieve its full potential or acceptance. This essay considers the reason for this lessening of PAR’s scholarly status, associated, as it seems, with the hierarchical superiority of more traditional print-based exegesis, which is invariably prioritized and valorized as the sole means to validate PAR’s academic potential. Such valorization denies the collaborative model PAR offers as a laboratory for innovative scholarly inquiry. In addition, this essay questions the prevailing hegemony, and inherent presentism, of recent reconstructional 'original practice' scholarship, while offering an argument for recontextualizing, reviving, and re-enlivening the dramatic text through the embodied skill of the PAR actor.
Citation: Quarmby, Kevin, ‘Enactment and Exegesis: Recontextualizing Wilson’s The Three Ladies of London through Performance as Research’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/par/KevinQuarmby.htm.