In this interview, the theatre scholar Azadeh Sharifi speaks about her research project on ‘post-migrant theatre’ in Western European countries. Explaining that her research is influenced by her personal experiences as a refugee in Germany, Sharifi describes how her interest in the effects of migration on contemporary European theatre developed—effects that must be considered as formative but are, in fact, very often ignored, marginalized, or misrepresented. Strongly emphasizing the need to investigate and highlight this formative role of migration for the aesthetics of contemporary Western European theatre, Sharifi strives to critically rethink the potentials of the term ‘post-migrant theatre’.
Balakrishnan Ananthakrishnan, professor in the department of theater arts, Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication, University of Hyderabad, speaks about his research interest and current research projects. Specialized in Indian performance studies B. Ananthakrishnan, whose career is marked by a lively mixtures of theater practice and theater studies, explains what role his biographical background played in the choice of his studies.
Chetana Nagavajara speaks about his research for his highly acclaimed book Brecht and France (1994) as well as on his perspectives on literature, performance, and the interweaving of performance cultures and research cultures. Educated at Cambridge and Tübingen and now Professor Emeritus of German at Silpakorn University, Thailand, Nagavajara is a scholar of comparative literature with extensive experience in performance – in Thailand as well as in Germany, France, the U.K., and the USA. Reflecting on his past experiences at the International Research Center, Nagavajara demonstrates the enormous potential of research that crosses disciplinary and cultural boundaries.
IRC-Fellow Cody Poulton, Professor of Japanese literature and theater in the Department of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Victoria, Canada, talks about his interests in and current research on drama and theater in Japan. After giving a short overview on the development of his research in the past twenty years, Poulton describes the scope and aims of his current research project in Berlin, which investigates how humanity’s place in the world is conceived of and represented in contemporary theater and performance in Japan.
In this interview, the dramatist, researcher, and theatre director Femi Osofisan, explains how colonialism shaped his conception of ‘theatre’ during his childhood and how he became aware of the political, ethical, and moral dimensions of performance and theatre while studying in France in the 1970s. Osofisan also shares his rich experience as a political dramatist and theatre director who has been working around the globe for more than 30 years, practicing ‘interweaving’ as an aesthetic strategy for addressing current social and political problems in Nigeria and many other places where he has staged his fascinating work—including the U.S., the U.K., China, and Germany.
Jacqueline Shea Murphy, professor in the University of California, Riverside’s dance department, gives a very personal insight into the ways in which her life as a researcher has developed, has changed herself and intensified virulent research questions. Unfolding the complexity and range of her focus on “indigeneity,” Murphy concretely talks about how the impulses of Indigenous knowledge contribute to contemporary choreographic processes, modern dance practices, and alternative understandings of the world.
Janez Janša, contemporary artist from Slovenia, speaks about his research project “Performing Name” following up his artistic project “I am Janez Janša” that he started in 2007 together with two other artists. He describes possible ways of approaching and reflecting on theater and explains in what way, to him, the social relevance is the most important aspect of an artwork.
Johanna Devi, artist, choreographer and dancer, provides a personal insight into her artistic career and the choices leading up to the research project that she had pursued at the IRC. Following the stages of her training, she explains how dance and music as well as Germany and India have always been closely interwoven parts of her life. Devi describes the challenges of the project that aimed at elaborating the metaphysical connection of performers and audience members asking how ether or space could serve as a medium for the transportation of subtle energies that communicate the state of the performer to the viewer.
Kedar A. Kulkarni speaks about the development of his research on "Literature in Public: Poetry and Drama in India before Nationalism, 1790-1890". Kulkarni received his PhD in comparative literature from UC San Diego in 2013, and has been a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University and the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin. Framing his background as a comparative one - his main interests lie in Indian literatures of the nineteenth century, their performances by itinerant performers, and Indian drama - Kulkarni elaborates on his research project and its current challenges.
In this interview, the dramaturge and dance scholar Nanako Nakajima, discusses her research project on the aging body in dance. The project developed out of her experiences of training and teaching traditional dance in Japan for more the 20 years as well as out of her work as a dramaturge for independent dance productions in the U.S. Describing the ways in which age is performed and perceived differently in dance communities in Japan, in the U.S., and in Europe, Nakajima emphasizes that during the creative production process of dance pieces, interweaving practices can open up various perspectives and thus prevent offending stereotypical representations of ‘other’ cultures in performance.
Narges Hashempour, Iranian scholar, actress, director, writer, curator and dramaturge, talks about her connection to German theater and her first works as a director in Germany, introducing her comprehensive theater project Unwritten Whisper. She speaks about the role of women artists in Iran and the issues of gender in her own work. Explaining her motivation to expand her artistic work by a more academic dimension, she discusses the themes of her ph.d.-thesis on Iranian theater culture and gender performance. Pointing out the challenges caused by the mixing of her academic and her artistic work and by her cultural background, Narges Hashempour gives a thoughtful and differentiated insight into Iranian culture characterizing it as living "in-betweenness".
In this interview, IRC-Fellow Navtej Johar, one of India’s leading dancers and choreographers, talks about his current research project “Naming Anxieties around Sacred/Erotic Dance”. He speaks about his training in Bharatanatyam, his research on Yoga and the history of Indian philosophy explaining how his work reflects questions of nationalism, body images, and the politics of dance in India today.
Nora Amin, a writer, performer, choreographer, theater director and educator from Egypt, discusses her reasons for creating "La Musica Independent Theatre Group." After the short overview of her theater experience, the interview focuses on her switch in interest from a more traditional theater to street theater and theater as a clear form of activism. In this context, she talks about her involvement with the first production of An Enemy of the People in Arabic language and her research project on her experience in producing a play during politically turbulent times. Her research focuses on the intersection between the culture of performance and the culture of protest.
Richard Gough, Artistic Director of the Center for Performance Research (CPR), Professor of Performance Research and editor, speaks about his central working interest and research project, “Devouring Theater: After Taste”, on food in performances and food as performing art. He explains the importance of the concept of “interweaving” for his work and the impact of his fellowship on his research.
Shen Lin, Chinese Professor for Theater Studies, Deputy Head of Research at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing, Chief Editor of The Drama Journal, writer and translator, is introducing his research project "The Formal and the Political in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Performances.“ Shen Lin speaks about the dominant role of Shakespeare as a global theater figure, as well as – in a very personal manner – about his own project’s connection to the Center’s fields of research. En passent, he gives important insights into his work as a cultural consultant for China’s leading performance organizations. Surprisingly clearly, he finally discusses the question of how "political" theater can be in China...
Tara McAllister-Viel is Head of Voice at East 15 School of Acting, University of Essex, one of the UK’s top London-based acting conservatoires. In this interview Tara talks about her current research project “Training actors’ voices: towards an intercultural/interdisciplinary approach”. She explains how her experiences as Visiting Professor-Voice for graduate and undergraduate acting conservatoires at The Korean National University of Arts, School of Drama (Seoul, Korea) have contributed to shaping her approach to intercultural voice training.
In this interview, IRC-Fellow Thomas Lehmen speaks about his work as a dancer, performer, and teacher. Giving a brief insight on his artistic education, Lehmen elaborates on how his theoretical background with Luhmann’s system theory influences his approach to creating works and collaborating with the artists and participants of his projects. His emphasis on a collective creation process becomes clearer when speaking about his latest project “A Piece for You”, that creates a particular interwovenness between performers and audience. Lehmen speaks about the structure of his project and the reactions to it and shares his understanding about the act of performances and creation.
Stephen Barber has published many books on urban cultures in relation to performance, film, photography and digital art; his most recent book (2012) is on the personal archive of the moving-image pioneer Eadweard Muybridge. The London Times called Barber’s books ‘brilliant, profound and provocative,’ and The Independent described him as a ‘writer of real distinction.’ The short video by Thomas Martius documents the work of Stephen Barber as a Fellow at the International Research Center “Interweaving Performance Cultures.” It provides insight into his extensive primary research into Muybridge’s personal archive. With the work of Eadweard Muybridge, Barber raises questions that reconceptualize the dynamics of corporeal and urban forms. His focus is on the conjunction of performance and film within exterior spaces, the origins of cinema, and its early prefiguring of the digital world. Thomas Martius’s short video is a dense insight into this researcher’s practice as well as an artistic reflection on the contemporary visual culture itself.