Research Methods in Theatre and Performance
Book: Research Methods in Theatre and Performance
Edited by: Baz Kershaw and Helen Nicholson
Published by: Edinburgh University Press (2011)
‘Research Methods in Theatre and Performance’ tries to make new interventions in research methods and methodologies in theatre and performance studies by thinking conceptually beyond fixed binaries of embodiment and intuition, ephemerality and materiality, emotional experiences and intellectual practices. This allows dynamic research ecologies to be produced in the future for theatre practitioners interested in research. The volume recognizes that a singular notion of history would be inadequate to solve the many queries and problems that arise when one researches theatre history; therefore the suggestion that the history of theatre exists only to provide the background information of canonical dramas is dismissed. One of the contributors of the book, Jim Davus, in the chapter ‘Researching Theatre History and Historiography’, insists, “investigation of past performances need to move beyond the aesthetics of theatre to its variegated modes of reception and to the social and cultural contexts that have engendered these.” (p.89) — a concept that permeates every essay in the book.The book thus investigates history as a form of narrative and insists that it is important to remember the contribution of epistemology and hermeneutics in its dissemination. Epistemology allows the examination of history as heavily influenced by the infrastructures of knowledge. However, it warns the historians that this does not give them the liberty to get away with a lack of evidentiary support and that all claims need to be grounded in evidence.
“Evidence — gathering with a view to the destabilisation, reorganisation or reordering of a historical position or perspective often lies at the root of the researcher’s work in the archive. It is therefore a prerequisite for effective research that theatre and performance archive researchers understand their own ideological position and recognise the ideological biases which operate in the archive they are using.” (p.21)