Current Postgraduate Research Projects

The Department of Performance Studies supervises a wide range of dissertation projects in three degrees: PhD, MPhil and MA(Research). Current student projects are listed below, as well as contacts for the supervisors involved in each project.

All research students in the Department are encouraged to attend, and at least once a semester, to present to, the Department's weekly Research Seminar, held between 3pm and 5pm every Friday during semester. The seminars are open to all interested visitors; a program is available here.

May-Brit Akerholt

Wendy Buswell

Terrance Crawford

Johanne Donovan

Peta Downes

Cassy Duell

Rosie Findlay

Katrina Foster

Kathleen Roma Greer

Christopher Hay

Simon Heath

Miranda Heckenberg

Adrian Johnson

Katherine Johnson

Carla Lever

Jason Marchant

Steve Matthews

Janet McGaw

Jodie McNeilly

Elisabetta Peruzzi

Trischelle Roberts

Jasmine Robertson

Kat Thomas

Rebekah Woodward-Hanna


May-Brit Akerholt

Doctor of Philosophy
The Dramaturgy of Performance
Supervisors: and Paul Dwyer

Publications
Jon Fosse: Plays Five (translations of seven plays), Oberon Books, London, 2011
'Playbird or Featherbrain', Forum for World Literature Studies, vol. 2, no. 1, 2010, pp.117-122
'A Sense of Otherness? The Balancing Act of Translation, Australasian Drama Studies, No 4, April 2009, pp.19-34, link.

Wendy Buswell

MA (Research)
Rugby Training From An Alternative Viewpoint
Supervisor: Paul Dwyer

Viewpoints, an actor training method developed by American director Anne Bogart, strives to sharpen the instincts of an actor and develop ensembles that work with fearlessness and cohesion. Rugby Union teams, like performance ensembles, want to achieve optimal performance and coaches are looking to develop players who have an immediate and uncensored response to on-field play. While Anne Bogart makes reference to the parallels between the objectives of sport and performance in her book "The Viewpoints" she and other Viewpoints’ practitioners have kept the training firmly within the rehearsal room. Through ethnographic and action research with a Sydney based rugby union football team this research explores the possibility of an Interdisciplinary dialogue between the training of actors and rugby players leading towards a proposition that an interlocution between actor and rugby union training may offer an alternative or addendum to conventional approaches to rugby union training.

Terrance Crawford

Doctor of Philosophy
Supervisor: Ian Maxwell

Johanne Donovan

Doctor of Philosophy
Supervisors: Ian Maxwell and Paul Dwyer

Peta Downes

Doctor of Philosophy
Supervisors: and Amanda Card

Cassy Duell

Doctor of Philosophy
Vision and Vernacular: implications of origin for the contemporary Australian theatre director
Supervisors: Ian Maxwell and Paul Dwyer

The mainstage theatre culture in Australia has, hitherto, chiefly been discussed in terms of the productivity of its playwrights. Acknowledging the pivotal and influential role that the director now occupies in contemporary theatre, the research draws upon sociological and cultural theories to explore notions of national identity which are subsequently played out in practice and performance (as impelled by the director) and considers how the working methods and artistic principles of key directors are shaped by their Australian upbringing and affiliation.

Rosie Findlay

Doctor of Philosophy
O HAI GUYZ: Between style bloggers, their readers and modern fashion
Supervisors: Ian Maxwell and

I am conducting a study of personal style blogs, a sub-genre of fashion blogging concerned with the personal style and interest in fashion of individual bloggers. By drawing on a range of methodological approaches (including participant observation, critical analysis and interviews) this project aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the practice and to tease apart what it means for those who engage in it (style bloggers and their readers.) Some of the overarching themes of my work are the performance of identity, the convergence of space and place on digital realms, the affectivity of digital readership, and the blur-between public and private being enacted on these sites of performed selfhood. I also closely examine the kind of fashion communication published on style blogs and analyse the response of the fashion media and industry to the emergence of these 'amateur' and authoritative voices.

Teaching
2012 and 2013 PRFM2601 Being There: Theories of Performance; PRFM 2602 Performance: Production & Interpretation

Publications
'At one remove from reality: Style bloggers and outfit posts', The Australasian Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 2011
'"The best way I knew- through fashion": On Personal Style Bloggers and Self-Expression', Fashion International 5 e-book (forthcoming)
'The Short, Passionate and Close-Knit History of Personal Style Blogs', Fashion Theory: A Journal of Dress, Body and Culture (forthcoming)

Conferencces
'At One Remove From Reality: Style Bloggers and Outfit Posts' presented at POPCAANZ 2011 (Auckland, NZ)
'From her bedroom to her style blog: girls, self-actualisation and style blogging' presented at Console-ing Passions 2011 (Adelaide, AUS)
'"The best way I knew- through fashion": On Personal Style Bloggers and Self-Expression' presented at Fashion International 5 2013 (Oxford, UK)

Blog
Fashademic

Katrina Foster

Doctor of Arts
Losing Mona Brand (and finding her again.): an examination of Mona Brand’s life, work and legacy

Supervisor: Laura Ginters

Mona Brand called her autobiography, Enough Blue Sky: An Autobiography of Mona Brand an Unknown Well Known Playwright. John McCallum describes her as: 'one of the most successful and unfairly neglected of all 20th century Australian playwrights.'

My interest in Mona Brand was ignited when researching issues of gender disparity in Australian theatre. I discovered that Brand was perhaps the most internationally successful playwright Australia has produced. Her work was well known in Europe but virtually ignored here. She was also prolific, having written over thirty plays, most of which reflected her deep interest in politics, indigenous affairs and women's rights. It seemed extraordinary to me that her work has received such little recognition in Australia and that she has no real place in Australian theatrical history. I was also struck by how far we have come in certain areas, in recognising and developing new work but in other areas, we are still fighting the same fights. In my proposed thesis, I would like to examine Brand's place in Australian theatre, by studying her life, politics and work, all of which are inseparable.

Teaching
Currently teaching Fictional Forms at UTS

Kathleen Roma Greer

MA (Research)
'He Puts Out His Hand. You Put Out Your Hand'. Emerging, Urban, Aboriginal Theatre-Makers. What Does it Take to Emerge?
Supervisors: Laura Ginters and Paul Dwyer

From 2007-2011, PACT centre for emerging artists (PACT) created a series of Aboriginal-specific opportunities and programs for emerging, urban, Aboriginal theatre-makers who were interested in experimenting in new methods of creation and exploring their urban, lived experience. These opportunities generated a small, critical mass of Aboriginal theatre-makers. The program was in many aspects successful, however it also faced various challenges and misunderstandings.

This study identifies three key stakeholders who contribute to different points of the development of opportunities and new Aboriginal works: the funding body, the arts organisation and the artists. Using PACT’s Aboriginal-specific opportunities as a case study, this research set out to discover: (i) if current opportunities being offered to urban, emerging, Aboriginal theatre-makers are effective; (ii) what are the stakeholders’ perceptions about what is required; and most importantly, (iii) do these perceptions align with each other, and if not, what is the impact on Sydney, urban, emerging Aboriginal theatre-makers?

Christopher Hay

Doctor of Philosophy
Brave souls pushing boundaries: emerging directors and cultural capital
Supervisors: and Paul Dwyer

Simon Heath

DArts Projects
The Creative Arts Collaborative Learning Program
Supervisors: and (Faculty of Education)

This is a research project that will study the outcomes, academic and real world, of high school students studying in an exclusively virtual, multimedia computer mediated environment wherein they will be required to work collaboratively in order to conceptualise, realise, execute and deliver a sophisticated multidisciplinary, multimedia creative work.
The CACLP will draw a minimum of 20 students from years 8-10 who are currently enrolled in the New South Wales Department of Education’s *Xsel, Virtual Selective High SchooProvision. Xsel uses sophisticated technology to connect academically gifted students from rural and remote areas with their teachers and peers in a virtual classroom.
The central driver(s) for the research is to be found in the question, 'Are we able to design a model that efficiently and effectively aids the production of desired outcomes in the virtual collaborative world?'

Miranda Heckenberg

Doctor of Philosophy
The practice and discourse of Australian Theatre designers: an ethnographic approach (working title)
Supervisors: Paul Dwyer and Laura Ginters

While theatre is widely regarded as the most intensely collaborative artform, our understanding of how theatre designers make their specific contribution to this process has been limited. The aim of borrowing from ethnography is to bring the design process and the lived experience of the designer back into scenographic and performance theory and our understanding of design on stage.

Adrian Johnson

Doctor of Philosophy
Ideology in Performance: A Semiotic Analysis of Cultural Mediation in Performance
Supervisors: Paul Dwyer and

Katherine Johnson

Doctor of Philosophy
Performing pasts for present purposes: bodily, performative traditions of history

Supervisor: and Laura Ginters

This work explores the potential of historical reenactment as a form of embodied learning, assessing the significance of kinaesthetic experience and performative engagement in educative processes. The project investigates the activities of a range of recreational historical societies and festivals to ascertain how the participants understand and connect with the past through participation in and performance of cultural activities from another time. It focuses on historic dances, crafts, rituals and martials arts, as well as everyday tasks such as cooking and the production of textiles – elements of the “private” and “feminine” sphere that are often overlooked in academic history. There is a lack of sufficient consideration of bodily, performative engagement with the past in both History and Performance disciplines. This study seeks to address this gap by utilising an ethnographic methodology to conduct research through participant-observation, in an effort to understand the motivations, objectives and experiences of the enthusiasts. An interdisciplinary approach will be utilised in this project to examine the possibilities of historical re-enactment as a form of public pedagogy complementary to an archival study of history.

Carla Lever

Carla Lever

Doctor of Philosophy
The Gold at the End of the Rainbow: Competing Narratives of Body, Identity and Difference in Contemporary South Africa
Supervisor: Ian Maxwell and

My research explores performative representations of, and attitudes towards, 'disabled' South African athletes - how sport rhetoric decodes (and simultaneously constructs) a concept of otherness. Through an analysis of the texts that influence how we see the contemporary South African sporting body, I am exploring the mediation between the personal and the political, between national and individual identity and the rhetoric of the abnormal versus the extra-ordinary.

Conference Papers
'National Bodies: Competing Narratives, Constructing Difference and the Paralympic Games.' Canadian Association of Theatre Research, during the 2013 Congress of the Humanities, University of Victoria, Canada.

'Academic Excellence and the Tutorial Programme' at the 'Celebrating Teaching and Learning' Conference of the Independent Institute of Education, Cape Town, South Africa, 2008.

Publications
'Body Play: Small Thoughts on a Growing South African Physical Theatre Tradition' in Seasons: Journal of International Women Playwrights, May 2011.

'Paving the Way: Academic Excellence and the ACN101 Tutorial Programme at Varsity College Rondebosch' in The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning Volume 4, June 2009.

'Re-embodying the (W)hole: 'The Vagina Monologues' and the Conception of Universal Womanhood' in The Journal of American, British and Canadian Studies, November 2008.

Jason Marchant

Doctor of Philosophy
Performance Practices and the Phenomena of Performing while Dancing
Supervisors: Amanda Card and Ian Maxwell

The aim of this research is to interrogate the dancer’s experience of doing while performing through research of practitioners who have developed dance practices that do not fit within traditional rehearsal or training paradigms. I hope to answer such questions as: 'How do dancers know what their performing is and how do they negotiate this phenomena of performing while dancing?'

Steve Matthews

DArts
Supervisor:

Janet McGaw

Doctor of Philosophy
Country Awakening: Amateur theatre in New South Wales regional communities 1945-1970
Supervisors: Laura Ginters and Amanda Card

I am examining amateur theatre in New South Wales regional communities between 1945 and 1970, a period of unprecedented growth, with the proliferation of new dramatic societies, the establishment of playreading groups, drama festivals and playwriting competitions, the introduction of training schools in country areas, and the opening of community theatres. I am interested in why this development occurred at this particular time and what the key influences were. I will be conducting three case studies as part of my research.

Jodie McNeilly

Doctor of Philosophy
Poetics of Reception: a phenomenological aesthetics of bodies and technology in performance
Supervisors: Amanda Card, Ian Maxwell and Lowell Lewis

This study examines the provocative claim by Performance Studies theorist Philip Auslander (1999) that there is no ontological distinction between live and mediatised forms because they participate in the same cultural economy. This claim has led to something of a stagnation of debate, between, on the one hand, scholars who privilege the live over the mediatised and on the others those who extinguish the live in favour of mediatisation. Moving beyond the limitations of ontology, this project proposes and develops a phenomenological aesthetics in order to investigate the essential structures and modes of experienced phenomena from within audience. The phenomenological approach understands the complexity and dynamism of the relationship between bodies and technologies in performance, reorienting the investigation away from a rehearsal of established and unhelpful ontological positions.
Passed Examination awaiting graduation

Micaela Nathan

Doctor of Philosophy
Submitted, awaiting examination
Supervisor: Ian Maxwell

Elisabetta Peruzzi

Doctor of Philosophy
Kangarusskies: behind the revolution. Ballet technique and approaches to acting among Ballets Russes émigrés in Australia

Supervisors: Amanda Card and Laura Ginters

Much former scholarship has explored the history of the Ballets Russes and the impact of these companies on the development of Australian ballet. But the influence of Russian Imperial ballet technique and approaches to acting has received less attention. Concentrating on the work of Ballets Russes visitors, particularly on those who remained in Australia to form local companies, this thesis investigates the influence of the Russian techniques on these dancers, choreographers and their audiences, speculating on the source of their impact before their styles were superseded by what some commenters have called a more ‘clinical’ British ballet technique.

Trischelle Roberts

MA (Research)
Empty space' projects and urban revitalisation in Newcastle, New South Wales
Supervisors: Paul Dwyer and Ian Maxwell

This research examines how artists working as part of ‘empty space’ projects – specifically, Renew Newcastle – position themselves within the intersection of interests (involving urban planners and local government, property owners and funding bodies) that allows these urban renewal projects to take place. Are artists simply swept away or worn down by the expectations and limitations of other involved parties, or are they able to utilise this common ground for their own purposes? What worlds do artists create in these 'empty' spaces and how do they negotiate the territory of this common ground in their everyday, emplaced labour?

Publications
'Renewal Through Art', http://www.dasplatforms.com/das_five_cent/renewal-through-art/

Blog
http://trischelleroberts.tumblr.com

Jasmine Robertson

MA (Research)
Drawing us in: The Australian Experience of Butoh
Supervisor: Amanda Card

The project aims to investigate, through historical research and interviews with practitioners, why Australian dancers have, and continue to be, attracted to butoh.

Kat Thomas

MA (Research)
Supervisors: Laura Ginters and Paul Dwyer

Rebekah Woodward-Hanna

Rebekah Woodward-Hanna

Master of Philosophy
Aesthetics, Affect and Applied Theatre; Developing Vanuatu with Wan Smolbag's 'Big Plays'
Supervisor: Paul Dwyer and Laura Ginters

Applied Theatre projects tend to focus on impact and outcome. Consequently, such projects lean towards process-oriented, participatory forms of theatre and avoid more-or-less conventional, pre-scripted, narrative theatre. In the last seven years a group of Applied Theatre scholars and practitioners, led by James Thompson, have re-introduced the importance of aesthetics and affective practice in the field. Inspired by this re-introduction, I travelled to Port Vila, Vanuatu to observe the rehearsals and performances of the 'big play' Zero Balans, performed by NGO Wan Smolbag Theatre and funded by AusAid and NZAid. The pre-scripted, two-hour play aimed for a good quality set and acting, was incredibly successful and engaging for its audiences and reflected the contemporary, Port Vila community.
Through Zero Balans, this thesis will contribute to the existing dialogue on aesthetics, affect and efficacy. It will expand on the field’s narrow definition of participation and argue for the acceptance of pre-scripted, narrative theatre only if it reflects and involves the local community and culture.

Conference Papers
2011.'Reaching Their Own; Making Western Theatre 'Local' in Vanuatu', ADSA Conference, Monash University, Melbourne.
2013. 'Is it Culturally Appropriate? Cultural Appropriation of Conventional Western Theatre in Vanuatu', ADSA Conference, Flinders University, Adelaide.

Publications
The above 2013 paper was the joint winner of the Veronica Kelly prize for Best Postgraduate Paper at the ADSA conference and will be published in a 2014 edition of Australian Drama Studies.

Past Student Research Projects

A PDF of past student research projects can be found here.