Reaching new audiences through innovation in performance

Submitting Institution

Lancaster University

Unit of Assessment

Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Information and Computing Sciences: Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media, Performing Arts and Creative Writing

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Summary of the impact

Since 2005, Dr Quick has created a series of practice-as-research projects and educational workshops to increase understanding of how new media-based performance is created and understood. Key beneficiaries have been young people, teachers, theatre practitioners, mixed media artists, and cultural organisations. Five new works have impacted through the introduction of innovative practice performance to new audiences, nationally and internationally (including central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Brazil and Taiwan); pioneering new uses of digital technology as creative practice, and sharing such innovation with both established and new theatres and groups.

Underpinning research

The underpinning research informing these projects centres on exploring the narrative potential that new digital technologies offer to theatre and related arts practice. This focus is not only on how these technologies impact on the narratives produced, but also how engaging with these technologies alter the processes of performance making and how such narratives are experienced and interpreted by audiences. As a consequence of this approach, the educative side of Quick's work with Imitating the Dog has been a core activity that has located the company's broader public facing ethos within a set of research questions that are framed by academic enquiry. To date, the emphasis of this enquiry has been on investigating collaborative processes, exploring new scenographic and dramaturgical techniques and exploring ways in which technology can be used to creatively and meaningfully interrogate ideas around identity, history and storytelling. Core to this research is the design and delivery of a teaching programme that is intimately connected to the touring of artworks whereby particular techniques and innovative approaches to performance making and its reception can be exchanged with a range of participants/inter-actors of different ages, skill sets and nationalities.

All the performances contained within this case study interrogate two significant relationships: 1) the relationship between the cinematic and the theatrical; 2) the relationship between the `live' presence of the performer and their screened image. A key component of this investigation is to research how new scenographic environments might be created that will allow for the juxtaposition and fusion of cinematic and theatrical worlds, using the digital camera and digital projection to create immersive environments for audiences. This research has produced a body of practice that centres on the sensory and emotive, that investigates the ways in which our understanding of contemporary experience has been, and continues to be, shaped by the cinematic.

The research has been carried out as a collaboration between Andrew Quick as co-writer and director (with Pete Brooks) and Leeds-based performance company Imitating the Dog (ITD). This case study focuses on the research and development, the making, touring and workshop/outreach activity of Hotel Methuselah (2006), Kellerman (2008), Tales From the Bar of Lost Souls (2009), Six Degrees Below the Horizon (2011) and The Zero Hour (2012). This activity has been funded by Arts Council England and The British Council and given support and research context by Live at LICA and The Centre for Performance and Practice, both at Lancaster University.

The body of research that underpins the overall case study is given context by Quick's wider exploration of innovative performance: how it might be documented; what the processes informing the creation of innovative practice are; examining broader cultural/ theoretical contexts. An example of this is The Wooster Group Work Book, published in 2007 (Routledge) and Quick's numerous talks, presentations and key note papers at international conferences addressing questions around experimental practice and new approaches to performance making and its dissemination. The works cited here have received £324K Arts Council England funding and £33K British Council funding and had successful peer reviews that include audience analysis, impact feedback and critical reflection/documentation of practice. This work has also participated in the wider research culture engaged in innovative practice as reflected in published performance texts and essays (see below) and being cited in Woycicki's `Temporality and string theory in Imitating the Dog's Kellerman', International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, (Volume 7, No 1, 2011) and Parker-Starbuck's Cyborg Theatre: Corporeal/Technological Intersections in Multimedia Performance (Palgrave, 2011).

References to the research

• 2008-2012: Kellerman: Brooks, Pete & Andrew Quick, Kellerman, Presses; Universitaires du Mirall, Toulouse (in English and French, trans.ean Berton). ISBN: 281070144X 213 pages. Minimum 2* quality indicated in ACE funding, national and international touring, national/international press coverage, full publication of text in University press. Selected for the British Council Showcase, Edinburgh, in 2009.

• 2006-2012: Hotel Methuselah: Quick, Andrew & Brooks, Pete Hotel Methuselah, in Theatre in Pieces: Politics, Poetics and Interdisciplinary Collaboration: An Anthology of Play Texts 1966-2010, ed. Anna Furse, Methuen, London. ISBN: 978 1 408 139967 pp. 125-153. Minimum 2* quality indicated in ACE funding, national/ international touring, national/international press coverage, full publication of text in significant anthology. Selected for the British Council Showcase, Edinburgh, in 2011.

• 2011-2013: Six Degrees Below the Horizon: Quick, Andrew & Brooks, Peter, Theatricalising Cinema: Imitating the Dog's The Zero Hour and Six Degrees Below the Horizon, Live at LICA, Lancaster University, 160 pages. Minimum 2* quality evidenced by ACE funding, national tour, reviews, full publication of text and contextual essays.

• 2012-2014: The Zero Hour: Quick, Andrew, Theatricalising Cinema, Imitating the Dog's The Zero Hour and Six Degrees Below the Horizon, Live at LICA, Lancaster University, Minimum 2* quality evidenced by ACE funding, reviews, national tour, selection for the British Council Showcase, Edinburgh, in 2013, full publication of text and contextual essays.

• 2008-10: Tales From the Bar of Lost Souls: Imitating the Dog, Greek National Theatre and Cypress Theatre Organisation (THOK) funded by the British Council Creative Collaborations Scheme. Funding: £30,000 British Council. Performances in Athens (6), Nicosia (7), and UK: Pulse Festival, Ipswich; Queer up North, Manchester; The Dukes Playhouse, Lancaster; The Wickham Studio, Bristol; The Workshop Theatre, Leeds; and The Phoenix Arts Centre, Exeter.

Details of the impact

Quick has focused on the creation of new audiences for innovative practice through five new performance works. Research into the creative processes that are integral to the work's development have influenced artists, teachers and secondary school students in a number of different countries. The innovative nature of this work is in part reflected by national press interest. The Guardian described ITD as "a company at the forefront of testing the nature of theatre"; The Observer, wrote of Kellerman, "it's as near as dammit a total work of art", and more recently The Guardian wrote of The Zero Hour, "Imitating the Dog are multiplatform theatre-makers of rare ambition and invention"; The Guardian wrote of Hound of the Baskervilles, "This version of Conan Doyle's classic is an enlightened, if somewhat unexpected, collaboration between one of the North West's oldest theatrical institutions, Oldham Coliseum, which is currently under renovation; and one of its most progressive, digital design specialists, Imitating the Dog." For a full list of reviews and other evidence of impact, see

Since 2005 Quick has made five touring performance works. Hotel Methuselah (2006-2013) performed 68 times in 11 countries (UK, Italy, Poland, France, Germany, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Ukraine, Lebanon and Brazil). ITD's audience figures show that 10,200 people attended performances, and 35 workshops were based around this work with around 700 people in attendance. Kellerman (2008-2013) performed 22 times and toured three countries (UK, France and Taiwan) with an estimated total audience of 4500. This activity was accompanied by 15 workshops with around 300 participants. Tales From the Bar of Lost Souls (2009) was commissioned by The British Council and created with The National Theatres of Greece and Cyprus. It performed 20 times to an estimated audience of 3000 and was accompanied by 2 residencies (in Athens and Nicosia) and 4 workshops — the attendance for these was 100. Six Degrees Below the Horizon (2011) and The Zero Hour (2012) have both performed 18 times with an estimated total audience of 3,500. Since 2011 Quick has run 12 workshops, 3 residencies and 1 summer school involving 300 participants. Quick made appearances on the TV networks of Ukraine, Brazil, Bulgaria and Greece to talk about the works. Quick's collaboration with Oldham Coliseum on Hound of the Baskervilles (2012) resulted in ten-week tour with over 50 performances attended by 18,000 spectators.

Practice as research utilising digital technologies have been used in all workshop activity. An emphasis has been placed on exploring the potential of camera and projection technologies to inform creative ways of exploring history, the personal and cultural/national, the experience of city living, and how to document individual life stories. The wider research into a broader cultural interest in cinematic/screen narratives has been used to explore how individuals might begin to tell their `own' stories.

Specific beneficiaries of this research have been secondary school students, who have engaged with Quick's approach to performance making and use of technologies in over 40 workshops since 2005. A recent example of this work is the collaboration with Bootham School in York in their creation of Three Stories using the interdisciplinary creativity of Art and Theatre Students. The teacher organising this also attended the 2012 ITD Summer School and commented the following in the Live at LICA Annual Report:

"I found the summer school incredibly stimulating and useful. As a teacher (who normally spends his time giving out to others, rather than being fed himself), it gave me a wonderful opportunity to work in a medium and environment I believe passionately in, to learn new things and to engage with a range of talented artists and practitioners in the production of original, highly creative & collaborative work. The atmosphere was friendly yet purposeful and focused. It was, in so many ways, the highlight of my summer. The collaboration that followed on from it, between Bootham School & ITD, was incredibly fruitful — and is still bearing fruit months after the collaboration ended."

This innovative approach to performance making has been shared internationally, and included working with artists from all over the world. Quick was in residency at the Cena Festival 2012 in Rio, Brazil, with Hotel Methuselah running workshops, master classes and formal academic presentations with 9 other companies and in collaboration with the Edinburgh and Avignon Festivals.

The British Council's engagement and the critical reception of Quick's practice attests to the significance of its impact, in particular approaches to innovative performance making and its reception, particularly in the use of digital technologies. This is also reflected in how Quick's work is impacting on the mainstream theatre culture as evidenced in collaborations with Oldham Coliseum (Hound of The Baskervilles (2012) and The Mist in the Mirror (2014)) and West Yorkshire Playhouse/Dukes Playhouse (A Farewell to Arms (2014)).

Sources to corroborate the impact