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Dr Fiona Graham: An interview with alumna Juliet Gilkes Romero

Over recent weeks, Dr Fiona Graham has embarked on an exciting project interviewing alumni from the MA Dramaturgy and Writing for Performance programme. As the Programme Director, Fiona was interested in finding out about their memories of studying on the MA programme at Goldsmiths University.

First up is alumna Juliet Gilkes Romero, an established and award-winning writer for Theatre, Radio and Film. Juliet had a positive experience studying for her MA at Goldsmiths, stating:

‘The MA Dramaturgy and Writing for Performance provided me with the space to be creative, to meet other people and to learn about myself as a writer. You had to learn to participate. When we worked with the actors and directors, we were able to see the subtext underneath the words’. (Juliet Gilkes Romero, 2021)

Juliet Gilkes Romero on set.

Image Credit: Copyright of Steve Tanner RSC

Since graduating from the MA Dramaturgy and Writing for Performance programme at Goldsmiths, Juliet has won multiple awards including the Alfred Fagon award for Best New Play 2020, the Roland Rees Bursary 2019 and the BBC World Service Alexander Onassis Research Bursary.

Her plays include The Gift a retelling of Medea filmed for Jermyn Street Theatre’s 15 Heroines of Greek Tragedy season 2020, The Whip performed at the RSC’s Swan Theatre 2020 and Day of The Living performed at The Other Place, as part of RSC’s Mischief Festival 2018. A full list of Juliet’s projects can be found on her website.

In addition to her extensive collection of plays, Juliet also has an impressive catalogue of screen and audio work including, Soon Gone; A Windrush Chronicle, which was co-produced by Sir Lenny Henry’s production company Douglas Road and the Young Vic Theatre and One Hot Summer broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

More recently, Juliet was appointed as the RSC/Birmingham University Creative Fellow and for several years has worked as a BBC foreign affairs reporter and producer. Juliet’s work with the BBC World Service Radio and BBC World TV has seen her report from countries across the globe, including Ethiopia, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Click here to watch the full interview with Julia Gilkes Romero.

To read more about Juliet Gilkes Romero’s work, you can visit her website.

Click here to find out more about the MA Dramaturgy and Writing for Performance programme at Goldsmiths.

Sue Mayo: Breaks and Joins for Being Human Festival

Being Human is an annual national festival of the Humanities, with events across the UK during November.  This year’s theme was ‘New Worlds’, and I was very excited to win the funding for Goldsmiths’ contribution to the Festival for my project, Breaks and Joins.

I’m working with filmmaker Chuck Blue Lowry on this project, exploring repair as an act of resistance. Our contribution to the Festival, Fixing it, comprised 9 online public events, ranging from practical repair with Rose Sinclair from the Textile Department, and Mo Sumah from Telegraph Hill Centre, to an exploration of plurality and Nationalism with Sudip Chakroborthy, and Community building with Raj Bhari. Chuck and I led creative workshops to celebrate broken objects, and Claire MacDonald led a reflection on the acceptance of brokenness.

As well as having fascinating conversations, meeting some awesome people, who were local and global, Chuck and I gained loads of ideas for the next stage of the project when we’ll work with local communities to make a film with interviews, original artwork and repair tips, as well as a podcast. From the person who completely disassembled her toaster to find the fault, to the Mum who wrote a beautiful piece about mending the soft toy her daughter made for her, to the participant in Dacca who spoke about painful community divisions, we learned that, whether it’s material, human or communal, we all experience breaks and joins, damage and mending. This feels like a theme that’s always been relevant but that is especially prescient in these strange times.

To read more about Sue Mayo’s work you can visit her website.

Introducing Dr Owen Parry, Researcher on Staging Decadence

Hello everyone!

I’m Owen, I’m an artist and researcher working across contemporary theatre, live art, visual arts and digital processes, and I am very pleased to be joining Dr Adam Alston as Researcher (part-time) on his exciting AHRC project Staging Decadence over the next year or so.

It’s also great to be back at Goldsmiths (although virtually at present!) having both completed my PhD in the Visual Cultures department in 2014, and also worked as an Associate Lecturer in Fine Art Critical Studies at Goldsmiths 2016-18. I am really looking forward to working with Adam and the project team across what promises to be a thrilling set of events and activities; and I hope to get to know some of you in the Theatre and Performance department and learn more about what keeps you ticking in these weird times!

A bit about me: I completed my PhD on Trashy Tendencies in Contemporary Art and Performance at Goldsmiths in 2014, exploring waste and excess as logics of cultural production. I have since gone on to develop the Fan Riot project exploring fandom as a subversive network that drove the internet, including a post-doctoral fellowship at IASH, University of Edinburgh 2018-19 exploring subversive performance from meme magick to conspiracy theories in the online culture wars.

I have an expansive performance and visual arts practice synthesising avant-garde and pop culture with the creation of fictional artefacts and fake occultist techniques. Through my practice I create playful situations and experiences (often with others) for the production of new, imaginary languages, communities, worlds and images.

You can check out my work on my website and find me, however reluctantly, on Twitter.

Go safely!


Creative Quarantine 2020: Lockdown #2 Inspiration

TAP lecturer and all-round legend Katja Hilevaara has rounded up the best online performances to keep you entertained and inspired through lockdown 2.0! Have a gander at the list below…

Dante or Die: USER NOT FOUND

Dante or Die – USER NOT FOUND: A video podcast

“For this new digital adaptation of the 2018/19 critically-acclaimed live show, Dante or Die have created a virtual site-specific world. Charge your phone, plug in your headphones and find a quiet space for this intimate, meditative and funny story of one man grappling with something deeply private.”

See The Guardian’s article here.

Forced Entertainment: Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare: At Home

“In this ‘At Home’ edition of Complete Works – Forced Entertainment’s audacious project to retell all 36 of Shakespeare’s plays using everyday items on a table top – the dramatis personae of household objects return to a domestic setting in a unique staging directly from the performers’ homes to yours.”

Stan’s Cafe: For Quality Purposes

Made in five days of lockdown, this performance allows us to hear the voices of those working in call centres, those that are trying to help and make things better.

Visit Stan’s Cafe website here.

Performance Live: The Way Out

Performance Live: The Way Out

“A surreal, theatrical adventure in which a young person escapes into a seemingly empty building at night and meets a mysterious guide who offers them an alternative way out.

Filmed in Battersea Arts Centre, in one continuous, unbroken shot, this is an immersive journey through a labyrinth of rooms and corridors, propelled by performances by extraordinary artists.”

See The Guardian’s article here.

Zodwa Nyoni: Nine Lives

“Fleeing from his home where a fresh wave of homophobia threatens his life, Ishmael has sought sanctuary in the UK. Dispersed to Leeds, Ishmael waits to hear his fate, he waits for a new life to begin amongst strangers. But not everyone is bad… can he find a place to call home again?”

Slam poetry filmed at Arcola Theatre, 2016.

Imitating the Dog: Online theatre works

“Through lockdown, we put some of our previous show recordings online to fill a few hours for people and hopefully go some way towards filling the void of cancelled shows and events.”

Pina Bausch: Palermo Palermo

“Video footage of the piece Palermo Palermo, which was taken shortly after the piece’s premiere in 1989, has been digitally restored.”

Corey Baker: Swan Lake Bath Ballet

BBC iPlayer Culture in Quarantine

Lots of great content on BBC iPlayer, including…

Jade Anouka and Grace Savage: Her & Her

“Part Poetry video. Part music video. This experimental short film is a lyrical and musical story told using poetry and beatboxing.”

Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young: Revisor

“Young and Pite revise an archetypal comic plot to serve as the basis for a production that blends contemporary theatre and dance. Revisor explores conflict, comedy and corruption in the potent relationship between language and the body. “

Rachel Bagshaw and Chris Thorpe: Where I Go (When I Can’t Be Where I Am)

“A powerful and intimate insight into the isolation of living with a rare, synaesthetic chronic pain condition. It is adapted by the team behind the award-winning theatre show The Shape of the Pain.”

Corey Baker: Swan Lake Bath Ballet

“27 elite ballet dancers from renowned dance companies perform a modern-day Swan Lake from their own home (filled) baths. Award-winning choreographer Corey Baker worked with dancers across the globe to choreograph and film Swan Lake Bath Ballet completely remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Guardian: Hottest Front Room Seats (Article)

“From live-streams of new plays to classics from the archive, here are some of the top shows online now or coming soon – this page is updated regularly”

Get in touch if you have your own recommendations. Happy watching!

Introducing TAP’s new Associate Researchers: Grace Arber and Christina Camara

Following the introduction of TAP’s new Associate Artists, we are equally thrilled to announce the winners of TAP’s Associate Researcher and new Associate Black Researcher Award. Huge congratulations to winners Grace Arber and Christina Camara!

The Associate Researcher/Associate Black Researcher Awards recognise an outstanding academic track record and dissertation. The recipient acts as a writing and research mentor for undergraduates and assists with events that promote a research culture among students in addition to receiving mentoring from academic staff.

Here are Grace and Christina talking about their research and how they hope to further it over the coming year…

Grace Arber

Describe your BA dissertation in three words?

Clowning, Boris, society.

Give an overview of your dissertation and how you hope to further your research?

My dissertation was called ‘Boris Johnson: A Modern Clown Performance’, and it explored the ‘performances’ of Boris Johnson throughout his political career and how he made it to where he is now (or, 6 months ago!). It was an investigation into the cohesive power of clowning as performance, and how Johnson’s skill set has enabled him to perform successfully (but ultimately very poorly).

To further my research, I wish to explore how the use of clowning techniques could be used to aid social cohesion post-pandemic, and how laughter can be used as a healing technique for social groups.

What drives your research?

My own personal need for laughter and humour to process and discuss aspects of life. Also the desperate need for communal laughter and silliness in our current global climate.

What is the process of creating your work?

I consume a large amount of the news and like to keep up to date with the ‘performances’ of our politicians. As a drama student I naturally then analyse their performances as if they’re acting a character. My thoughts/concepts/ideas all then stem somewhere from there! My process is something that is in continual development and I hope to start refining it over the course of this year.

What do you hope to achieve this year?

A better understanding of my writing process, and to work together with lots of students in the department to further our understanding of essay writing! I also hope to continue my research in postgraduate study one day and I hope to develop my critical thinking to a postgraduate level this year.

What does being an Associate Researcher mean to you?

I will love being a part of the department community for another year, which is important to me, especially during these strange times! I also feel very grateful to have the opportunity to have my research mentored as I continue to develop my thoughts and ideas.

Christina Camara

Describe your BA dissertation in three words?

Exciting, challenging, rewarding.

Give an overview of your dissertation and how you hope to further your research?

As a Performance, Politics and Society student, I’ve got the chance to do a practice-based research (called Major Research Project) instead of doing the usual 10K dissertation. My MRP explored the possibilities of multicultural education in Cote d’Ivoire – reconciling traditional African education and colonial methods currently used in Ivorian schools, using Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy and drama games. So, I designed workshops that I have facilitated in Abidjan with participants from diverse age groups.
I hope to further my research on education in Africa by continuing my work with young people in Abidjan, and hopefully expand this project to other West-African countries.

What drives your research?

1/ I’m African and therefore this research is very close to my heart and my roots.

2/ The lack of education is stopping most African countries to reach their full potential

3/ Learning should be fun and accessible

What is the process of creating your work?

A lot of research, more research, a lot of drafts… the answer cannot be short but I guess throughout my process I never stop questioning what I know/what I think I know.

What do you hope to achieve this year?

1/ I hope to be useful for my department

2/ Take my current research about Pan-Africanism to the next level (whatever that means)

3/ Not taking a 2 hours tea break after each paragraph I write…

What does being an Associate Researcher mean to you?

Very honoured! Also excited to be the first Associate Black Researcher. I hope to contribute to decolonising our curriculum and making our university more diverse.

Any further comments?

Wash your hands, people!

Introducing TAP’s New Associate Artists: Seven Veils Collective and Jim Osman

We are delighted to at long last introduce the recipients of TAP’s Associate Artists Award and brand new Associate Black Artist Award!

Each year, the Associate Artist(s) Award is given to a BA Theatre and Performance student or group, recognising outstanding success in their final year project, TAP In ’20. The Associate Artists receive a bursary and are nurtured in their first year after graduation. The Award can be used for research and development, technical and resource support, outreach, mentoring, and business development.

When COVID-19 restrictions forced TAP’s yearly theatre festival to go online, student reps suggested that money saved from unspent performance budgets should be used to promote Black students’ work. And so, this year we excitedly invited applicants for the Associate Black Artist Award.

Now, without further adieu, meet are our Associate Artists, Seven Veils Collective, and Associate Black Artist, Jim Osman!

Seven Veils Collective

A screenshot of a zoom call between members of Seven Veils Collective. They all look into the camera and smile.

Describe Seven Veils Collective in three words:

Provocative, corporeal, intermedial.

Give an overview of your TAP In’ 20 performance, Pallas/Athena, and how you came up with the concept…

Using found materials stemming from an interest in mythology, we wanted to explore how we can subvert the expectations of storytelling. We did this using dance and movement as a material alongside written myths of how the goddess Athena got her name. Due to Covid-19 and transforming our show into a digital, interactive experience, we presented the implications of contemporary adaptation, in both its potential and its restrictions.

If I was coming to a Seven Veils show, what should I expect?

Expect a shift in your role as an active audience member. We aim to curate a space that re-orientates your natural perception of material and narratives. We do this by challenging the conditions in which bodies and theatrical elements interact on stage.

What is the process of creating your work?

Devising as an ensemble, we work from found materials such as poetry, music and film, as well as the personal experiences of our group. We use improvisation exercises grounded in movement to explore this material and introduce the presence of technology.

What do you hope to achieve this year?

We hope to refine our dramaturgy and technique as a group. We also want to facilitate student workshops and local outreach, and we will create a new project for the public (whether live or digital!).

What does being an Associate Artist mean to you?

During this period of uncertainty in the arts and culture, we are so pleased to have the support of the department and a creative environment to work in during our first year as freelance theatre makers.


Jim Osman

Jim Osman stands against a white wall looking into the camera, smiling.


Describe your art in three words?

Deciphering, provocative, accessible.

Give an overview of your TAP In’ 20 performance, Elven Hipsters, and how you came up with the concept…

Elven Hipsters is a mockumentary with Jim Henson-style puppets and explores the topic of gentrification in London through a Tolkienesque/fantasy lens. The show intends to critique gentrification and stereotypes of the British working classes whilst at the same time deconstructing the racial narratives in Tolkein’s The Lord of The Rings. The idea started as a concept for a card game, using the puppets to promote the game at board game conventions. The performance was originally going to be a theatre play but when we had to make our theatre projects into films for our end-of-year show, the mockumentary format seemed the most appropriate for the concept and the time and resources I had.

If I was coming to a Jim Osman show, what should I expect?

There aren’t really any strong unifying factors that I’d say encompass all the work I make. Except that I often explore Science Fiction and Fantasy, but I don’t always work in those realms. Audiences can expect to see things they are familiar with explored in a new way, I tend to interpret life in an intersectional-feminist/Marxist framework so even if the piece I’m doing isn’t inherently political, expect to see popular themes deconstructed and displayed in a way that makes us think twice about accepted styles and norms. I hope that my work is empowering and inspiring, and that the performers are enjoying the experience of performing.

What is the process of creating your work?

It varies from project to project, I love working collaboratively and exploring different rehearsal methods. Organisation is incredibly important, I use the Trello app for project management. If it’s a classical work I strongly believe in ‘serving the text’, though I often decide that classical works are begging to be re-worked and made accessible to a contemporary audience! I don’t believe in crowbarring a contemporary setting into a classical piece, however, I don’t think we should make the same tired ‘museum pieces’ that just rehash old styles and aren’t communicating something thought-provoking or timely.

If it’s a brand-new contemporary piece then I think I work in a similar way to Quentin Tarantino (minus the misogyny and cultural appropriation), in the sense that he takes story-telling forms audiences are already familiar with and deconstructs them, putting a magnifying glass to a particular element that most people don’t usually see or focus on.

What do you hope to achieve this year?

For the award, I’ll be making a cyberpunk/SciFi opera, Mother Lode. It’s an opera for electronic music, two vocalists, two violinists and will be on at Gossamer Fog, a gallery focused on Science and Technology in Deptford. The opera is about two E-sports (competitive video gaming) players in a dystopian cyberpunk Megacity i.e. Judge Dredd, Blade Runner. The show will be a homage to cyberpunk fiction, 80s nostalgia and a poignant metaphor for Bernaysian propaganda in late capitalism. It’ll be in August – October 2021 and my hope is that we do a UK tour!

I got funding from Folkestone Puppetry Festival to do another episode of Elven Hipsters, the next one will be much shorter, about 5 minutes. We’ll also be creating the Elven Hipsters card game and will be presenting it at board game conventions around the UK.

Lastly, I’ll be directing a baroque opera for the classical music department at Goldsmiths, which I am particularly excited about.

What does being an Associate Artist mean to you?

It means a lot, I have loved being at Goldsmiths so I feel validated to have received this award. I’m very happy to be able to represent Goldsmiths moving forward into my professional life.

The award I received was an associate black artists award but my current piece Mother Lode, despite the fact it will have a non-white cast, doesn’t explore any racial themes. I hope that it will be empowering for people to see artists of colour making work that isn’t specifically to do with their heritage and identity. That isn’t to say I am not a fan of identity-based work, but I think it’s important for minorities to be able to make work that interests them without feeling a pressure to make the work they think the world expects them to make.

Any further comments?

Thank you for the award! I’ve been so inspired by artists, lecturers and researchers at Goldsmiths! I hope to be a researcher at a University myself one day and think it’s amazing that environments like Goldsmiths exist, they are so important.


You can watch Pallas/Athena and Elven Hipsters at

A Lesson in Unpredictability: 2019/20 Associate Artist Liv Ello signing off

Liv sits on a stool facing the camera, leaning forward, hands gesturing, mid-sentence

Liv performing at The Bunker for WoLab’s Actor Writer Showcase

As my time as the Associate Artist in the Theatre and Performance department draws to an end, I reflect on the position with great fondness and gratitude. As the Associate Artist, I have not only had the privilege of having my performance work supported, but I have developed invaluable experience as a facilitator and practitioner through assisting students with their practical and academic projects.

The greatest personal journey I have experienced in this position is a lesson in patience and unpredictability. Of course, 2020 has brought along personal and professional hardships for almost everyone. These unprecedented times have provoked feelings of loss and uncertainty as we navigate the loss of work, opportunities and human connection.

Like many artists, I have had work cancelled or postponed this year. My solo show SWARM was meant to be performed at The Brighton Fringe and Edinburgh Fringe, but fortunately, both events will be taking place next year instead. The absence of live performance from my work has indeed made me reconfigure my ‘professional game plan’.  Before lockdown, I had the privilege of taking part in WoLab’s Actor-Writer development programme, as well as performing SWARM at Camden People’s Theatre, and also performing with OPIA Collective in This Queer House at VAULT festival. As an emerging artist, the absence of creative spaces means missed connections and opportunities that are integral at this stage in my career. As the future of live performance continues to be uncertain, I am reminded that the artistic industries have always been precarious pathways that require much determination and dedication. I am grateful that my position at Goldsmiths has provided me with stability to negotiate new realms of creativity, whilst allowing me to be a figure of support to students as they also venture into unsettled new worlds.

Liv, wearing a beige shirt and trousers, stands stage right looking through a large wooden frame into the eyes of another performer, also wearing beige

Liv performing in This Queer House at VAULT Festival

For many creatives like myself, ‘work’ is not just for monetary gain, but rather an outlet for expression; and the closure of performance spaces, as well as the overall treatment of the arts during the pandemic, has not only been detrimental to livelihoods, but also to the voices of resistance and innovation in our society. It is almost as if the maltreatment of the arts by the government is an intentional tactic to disempower radical voices of dissent… but ANYWAY, I digress…

By definition, we cannot prepare for the unpredictable, but rather stay present and adapt. We must embrace change as a means of dismantling our own complacency and developing our capacity for openness. When we allow ourselves to move away from the rigidity of structure and expectation, we facilitate a space for versatility and compassion.

Liv stands on stage dressed as a fly, behind them a large screen reads "BARFLY Drosophila Melanogaster". In the foreground of the shot is a laptop screen, indicating that the shot was taken from the theatre's control booth.

Rehearsals for SWARM in Goldsmiths’ George Wood Theatre

Whilst we may not be able to plan out our immediate futures in the same way as before, we can now focus on the changes we can make as individuals and as a collective in this given circumstance. As a result, I highly regard Goldsmiths’ approach to the adaption and diversifying of their teaching methods during this time, as well as the crucial introduction of the Black Associate Artist & Researcher Awards. Goldsmiths, along with all other educational institutions, must continue to listen to the needs of their students to continue being exceptional places to learn, create, grow and inspire. I feel very fortunate to have been nurtured by an establishment that champions the new, the bold and the radical, and I have Goldsmiths to thank for shaping the artist I am today.

I would like to thank the Theatre and Performance department for this incredible opportunity, with particular thanks to Katja Hilevaara, Ben Levitas and Philippa Burt for their continued support. I would also like to thank Rosie Scanlan-Leroux and Jacqueline Ahwieh for all their assistance over my time as the Associate Artist. Although I am sad to be leaving this position, I look forward to experiencing new opportunities, as well as continuing my work in the department as an associate lecturer. As I pass the imaginary baton to the new 2020/2021 Associate Artists, I can’t wait to see what opportunities lay ahead for these artists, the current students, and indeed the department itself. I would also like to take this moment to once again congratulate the graduating classes of 2020 for all their fantastic work and embracing unpredictability to their advantage.

Thanks to everyone who has continued to support my work over this past year. It means so much more than I can put down in words. I hope you will all join me on this next part of my journey.

Not a goodbye – but cheerio!

Liv Ello

Follow Liv on Twitter and Instagram

The Brian Roberts Award

We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2019 Brian Roberts Award: MA Applied Theatre student Holly Wallis!

The Brian Roberts Award is given in recognition of excellence in the analysis of practice, awarded to a student studying on the MA in Applied Theatre: Drama in Educational, Social and Community Settings. Brian Roberts was a much-loved lecturer in the Theatre & Performance Department at Goldsmiths, and this award, of £500 is given in his memory, by his family, to whom we are very grateful.

Some words from Holly:

“I am delighted to receive the  Brian Roberts Award for a piece of work I presented in 2019, during the first year of my MA in Applied Theatre. Following my placement on London Bubble’s Charting the Mayflower project, a community play exploring the history of the Mayflower’s voyage in 1620.   A group of  ‘Saints and Strangers’ sailed to their now memorialised place as founders of the United States of America. In my presentation, I explored the impact of stories, narrative and the production of knowledge on how we interpret and live in the world, in the societies that have been written around us.

The Mayflower sailed 400 years ago, and is broadly marked as the start of a colonising process that would turn London into a global metropolis.  At the time of its departure, English was barely spoken in the whole of England. And here we stand, 400 years later, suspended in a liminal life, whereby one of the many many effects of a globalised world has been the rapid spread of a virus that has ground us all to a halt.  I can’t help but wonder how narratives on the coronavirus are going to be written, told and retold for political and social purpose. Who will emerge as the winners? How will lessons be learnt, or systematically erased? Which character will your Granddaughter play, when they partake in theatre project aimed at exploring the 2020 pandemic that froze the world?

I’d like to thank Brian Robert’s family for this wonderful award. My first year on the Applied Theatre course at Goldsmiths was truly the funnest, most creative, explorative and inspiring time from which I have made some beautiful personal and professional friendships.”

Congratulations to Holly, who is now completing the 2nd year of her MA, and working, remotely, at Jackson’s Lane Arts Centre.

Holly Wallis

MA Applied Theatre: Launching into 2020

The Spring term for MA Applied Theatre students begins with an exciting five weeks working with visiting artists who bring song, podcast performance, puppetry, dance, autobiographical writing, adapted Shakespeare, Headphone Verbatim and installation. The aim is to expand the range of ways we work and push us to access all of the creative methodologies we can – it’s easy to get stuck in familiar ways of working. Given that our International MA group are already skilled and imaginative, this is a bit of a festival.

But there’s another layer to the classes. Socially engaged theatre processes are deeply relational; we are always working with others in one way or another, and building relationship becomes a core part of what we’re doing. Different art forms open up different ways in which we need because we work with groups who have a wide variety of vulnerabilities and possibilities.

Understanding how an art form works in the room, in action, can help us to think what’s going to work best for a particular group at a particular time. Looking through this lens it’s possible to see the way in which, for example, singing together grows a strong sense of community, but no one needs to chat or to be in physical contact. Dance involves carefully supported touch, getting your hands dirty making a papier-mâché puppet with a group of other people allows for lots of informal chat, improvising a scene sharpens your attention to others. The shapes in the room, the opportunities for separateness and togetherness, the guided and the informal conversation…..the possibilities are endless.

– Sue Mayo

Introducing Dr Adam Alston, new Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Theatre

Headshot of Dr Adam Alston

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths as a Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Theatre. This place is steeped in histories of radicalism, and I like the fact that these histories are so present around campus – from its buildings, to murals etched on walls and posters announcing a programme of talks that signal so much about what a place of work and learning should be, or could be. It’s no secret that the road ahead for the arts, Higher Education and social justice is throwing up a number of significant challenges, but what the vibrancy of critical and political thought and action around campus signals to me is, for want of a better word, hope… So in spite of those challenges, it makes me excited about working here – about finding shared points of interest and commitment, but also about exploring spaces for progressive disagreement and debate.

I’m moving to Goldsmiths after 6 years of working at the University of Surrey – firstly as a Lecturer and then as a Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies. I learned a lot very quickly there about how institutions “think”, about how priorities are set, change and are reset in response to evolving and precarious material circumstances, and about how institutions tend to view and understand accomplishment and progress. But the most important thing I learned is that what matters “on the ground” has nothing to do with abstraction. What matters are the people you work with on a day-to-day basis: your immediate colleagues at all levels of their career, and students (for me this is a key characteristic of teaching in HE – working with students, not for them).

In terms of what I hope to explore here in the years ahead – well, it’s a few things. I’ve been looking at immersive theatre and performance for over a decade now, and have published a range of articles and a couple of books in this area, all of which draw the political into sharp focus. I plan on pushing some of this work further by focusing on a new set of challenges faced by companies that formed after the 2008 financial crash and the introduction of austerity measures that ensued in the 2010s. However, the next “big project” is looking at the speeding up of the world: at an accelerating pace of life, the intensification of productivity, hyperconsumerism, and the effects of all of these things on health, wellbeing and quality of life. I’m particularly interested in how contemporary theatre makers are reacting by stretching processes of acceleration to points of messy, trashy and anarchic excess – to points of decadence. This focus on decadence, especially, has already been fostering some great working relationships with colleagues over in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and I look forward to finding out where else it might take me in the months and years ahead.”

Dr Adam Alston