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Title: Landscape performance : the development of a performance philosophy practice
Authors: Denman-Cleaver, Tess
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This practice-based thesis presents a body of work comprised of four performance projects conducted by the author. Each project occupies a separate chapter and is articulated in a manner appropriate to the specific nature of that project’s activity and outcomes. Whilst the performances themselves are not part of this PhD submission, documentation of making and events has been included throughout to give the reader an indication of the type of work and context from which this thesis was written. Presentation of the four projects supports a critical dialogue around a lineage of Heideggerian phenomenologies of landscape. The thesis is supported by appendixes, which include material from the development of each project as well as further documentation and a number of talks and publications relating to the author’s body of work. The research offers new insights into performance as a philosophical practice by looking specifically at how performance thinks in relation to landscape. The projects are understood as part of a developing ‘landscape performance’ practice situated within the field of performance philosophy, and defined in direct relation to the projects presented. Within this practice-based research landscape is considered in relation to the staging of a performance event, as a geographical context in which performance is made, as a philosophical framework for the development of a performance practice, and as a performing agent in and of itself. Each of the four projects employs an expanded practice of close reading to work with text, place, scenography and sound. Articulation of this close reading approach supports the thesis’ discussion of phenomenological notions of landscape as follows: Alice in Bed (2008-2013): a production of a play by Susan Sontag surrounded by a programme of talks, symposia, workshops, gallery installations and a photography 5 exhibition. The first project chapter is a reflexive account of how staging of the play was developed in relation to a close reading of Sontag’s implied philosophy. Project R-hythm (2013-14): a yearlong performance-led research process undertaken in partnership with a resident of a tidal island, which concluded with a daylong public walking performance. Presented here as a series of project narratives that offer an account of working with a landscape that was experienced as primarily temporal rather than spatial. Sounds & Guts (2014-15): a studio performance written and directed by the author, which toured to arts and community venues around the UK. Sounds & Guts is presented as an annotated script, which reveals the philosophical bearing of the making process. The thesis’ discussion of this project employs Heidegger’s notion of ‘things’ as a framework for examining the phenomenological foundations of the work’s landscape. Time Passes (2008-2017): a performance project that takes Virginia Woolf’s landscape writing as a starting point. The final project chapter is an articulation of how Time Passes is informed by the work that precedes it, and addresses broader philosophical implications of Woolf’s writing in relation to phenomenology, landscape and Heidegger’s notion of ‘things’. The central contributions of this thesis are as follows: The research speaks to the growing field of performance philosophy in its consideration of the philosophical bearing of performance making. Focusing on the making process from the artist’s perspective, each chapter presents a different relationship between performance and philosophy. The thesis articulates how new understandings of landscape emerge out of philosophically oriented performance making. Articulation of the making process offers performance practitioners and researchers practical insights into how performance works with landscape, how a philosophical enquiry into the nature of landscapes can form the basis of a body of work, and the nature of performance as research. 6 The research’s definition of ‘landscape performance’ offers new perspectives on performance practices that have an emphasised concern for space, place or landscape. Building upon established notions of ‘site-specificity’, the thesis reveals the workings of performance in relation to landscapes that are understood as more-than-geographical and more-than-representational. This research has used performance practice to conduct an integrated and in-depth inquiry into a particular lineage of thinking on landscape. The inquiry is presented in this thesis through discussion on the philosophical framework of Sontag’s theatrical landscape, phenomenological conceptions of landscape from a variety of disciplines, Heidegger’s notion of ‘things’, and the landscape philosophy of Virginia Woolf’s fiction writing. In its approach to articulating how that inquiry was conducted the thesis offers re-readings of various source materials and models of performance-led and practicebased research.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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