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Richard Gough

Richard Gough

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2013/14, 2014/15

Richard Gough is Artistic Director of the Centre for Performance Research (CPR) - a multi-faceted theatre organisation based in Wales that works internationally. He is General Editor of Performance Research (published bi-monthly by Routledge), Performance Books and Black Mountain Press (imprints of CPR). He is Professor of Performance Research at Falmouth University and Emeritus Professor of Aberystwyth University. He was founding President (1997-2001) of Performance Studies international (PSi). He has curated and organized numerous international theatre projects including conferences, summer schools and workshop festivals, and he has produced nationwide tours of experimental theatre and traditional dance/theatre ensembles from around the world. He has directed over seventy productions, many of which have toured Europe, and he has lectured and led workshops throughout Europe and Australasia and in China, Japan, USA, Philippines, Colombia and Brazil. He has dedicated the last 39 years to developing and exploring interdisciplinary, experimental performance and seeks to present work that pushes boundaries and disciplines.

Research Project

Devouring Theatre: After Taste

This research explores food in performance and food as performing art; the performative in cookery, its staging in the kitchen and at the table; the processes in cooking and performance making, exploring piquant analogies and correlations; the theatricality of food and food as a model for theatre, multisensory, processual and communal.

It will chronicle historical precedents to contemporary practices (in performance, food and cookery) through a trans-cultural and an interdisciplinary perspective and focus upon some key art works (performance, installation, sculpture and ‘happenings’) from a broad range of practitioners across art movements in the twentieth century whose work promotes an immersion experience at the intersection of food and performance, theory and practice.

Whilst the work, compositional strategies and artistic-led research of some seminal artist such as Filippo Marinetti, Carolee Schneemann, Daniel Spoerri, Rirkit Tiravanija and  Miraldo (to name but a few) will be described and analysed the main purpose is to identify cross-threading, inter-weaving, operational strategies and themes (excess, denial, participation, communitas, consumption, display) than run throughout these works and offer insight to composition (by artist) and reception/participation (‘by audience’).

Once a critical, historical and analytical framework is established, the practical and experimental work, advanced by myself throughout the last twenty years (through theatre productions, events and performative meals) will be described and assessed leading to the advancement (through examples from practical experiment) as to how ‘old’ notions of catharsis and communitas in theatre/performance can be rejuvenated by performative meals (food/performance) and staged/realized in contemporary society.

The research will explore the analogies between theatre making and cookery, performance and gastronomy and to discover what insights (lessons/instructions) one throws onto the other; what commonalities (juxtaposition, mise en place/mise en scene, consumption, excess, minimalism etc) enhance an understanding of composition (and improvisation). To attempt, through food and cookery, to enhance the critical language and theoretical discourse on performance composition (not simply extend discourse on devising, dramaturgy or scenario construction (for example) but to address the paucity in critical facility to rigorously analyse theatre composition.

Video Interview

Watch a video interview with Richard Gough.

Recommended Publications

  • Freedman, P. (ed.) Food: The history of taste, London: Thames & Hudson, 2007.
  • Young, C. C., Apples of Gold in Settings of Silver: Stories of dinner as a work of art, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.
  • Brillat-Savarin, J.-A., The Philosopher in the Kitchen, translated by A. Drayton, London: Penguin, 1970 [original French title: La Physiologie du goût, first published 1825].


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