The department is housed in the Kingsway Buildings a few minutes away from the main Chester site. We have four large multi-purpose performance spaces, music rehearsal rooms, computer suites and seminar/lecture facilities. Performing Arts has a team of committed staff - teachers who believe in creating the best possible atmosphere of support and encouragement for all their students. In the last Research Assessment Exercise, this department was declared to be of international standing, so you belong to a department where cutting edge scholarship in the disciplines will inform all your learning.

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  • John Bull’s Other Ireland: Manchester-Irish Identities and a Generation of Performance

    Harrop, Peter; O'Sullivan, Brendan M. (University of Chester, 2017-05)
    This thesis provides an auto-ethnographically informed ‘making strange’ of the mise-en-scène of Irish working class domesticity in the North West of England as it was lived during the 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s. The liminality of being a child of migrant parents is considered and the interstices of experience and identity in and of England and Ireland, Englishness and Irishness are explored. The first chapter of the thesis draws the reader into the initial frame of reference, the personal childhood ethnography that inspired this wider study, and considers Bhabha’s ‘shadow of the nation’ falling ‘on the condition of exile’ as one context for the development of individual identities. The second chapter examines the ways in which a performance studies approach provides a useful method for interrogating matters of place, personhood and citizenship whilst the third chapter introduces performance theory as a mechanism for exploring the ways in which quotidian and cultural performance have been harnessed as tools of negotiation. These are sometimes resistant, sometimes affirmative and sometimes celebratory acts in the construction of new identities. Ongoing performances reveal the embodied histories of individual performers, shaped in part by culture and memory, masking and unmasking to both construct and reveal layered identities. The fourth chapter, provides the most obvious example of traditional fieldwork, and draws on interview extracts to provide key insights into aspects of the diasporic context, identifying and analyzing the many rehearsal and performance opportunities provided by growing up in Irish households in England, where identities were initially formed, informed, and performed. Bridging the distinction between autoethnography, performance ethnography and the ethnography of performance, this chapter engages in discussion with a range of contributors defamiliarising the domestic mise-en-scène whilst simultaneously recognizing a commonality of experience. These interviews are themselves a celebration of Irish identity performance and form an important bridge between the theoretical framework explored in the opening chapters and the subsequent case studies. The final section of the thesis searches out a mirroring of these processes in the construction of theatrical and mediatised performance – providing opportunities to both utilize and observe performance ethnography and the ethnography of performance. It is suggested that Terry Christian provides an affirmative yet angry celebration in a complex performed response to a complex mise-en-scène. A new reading of Steve Coogan’s work then suggests three modes of performance: first, Coogan the outsider satirises British mores; second, Coogan plays sophisticated games of revealing and masking multiple versions of self; third, a searching and ultimately serious engagement with his engagement with Ireland. The application of a performance theory perspective, in the context of this fraction of the Irish diaspora, reveals a playful and generous spirited approach to complex and serious matters of identity and place in the world – to the ways in which lives are led and meanings made through and for the generation of performance.
  • From dance cultures to dance ecology: a study of developing connections across dance organisations in Edinburgh and North West England, 2000 to 2016

    Harrop, Peter; Pattie, David; Jamieson, Evelyn (University of Chester, 2016-12-15)
    The first part of this thesis provides an autobiographical reflection and three contextualising histories to illustrate the increasing codification of late twentieth century UK contemporary dance into discrete cultures. These are professional contemporary dance and professional performance, dance participation and communitarian intervention, and dance as subject for study and training. The central section of the thesis examines post-millennial reports and papers by which government, executives and public sector arts organisations in both England and Scotland have sought to construct and steer dance policy toward greater collaborative connections on financial and ideological grounds. This is contrasted with a theoretical consideration of collaboration drawing on a range of academic approaches to consider the realities and ideals of creative and artistic collaboration and organisational collaboration. Finally, the thesis draws together these historical, theoretical and policy driven considerationsin a series of six case studies to establish the network of connections. Two professional contemporary artists and companies, two community dance organisations and two education departments (one of each from Edinburgh, Scotland and one of each from the North West of England) are scrutinised to assess the challenges, tensions and opportunities in reconciling policy driven collaboration with artistic integrity.
  • The experience and perception of duration in three contemporary performances

    Waite, Julian; Harrop, Peter; Layton, James R. (University of Chester, 2016-04)
    I argue in this thesis that qualitative duration (viewed in opposition to the construct of quantitative clock-time) can be experienced through performance encounters that challenge smooth consumption. In a socially accelerated culture, where to do more in less time is the measure of a productive life, one’s connection with the ‘real’ time of duration is diminished. To challenge this premise, I have used an autoethnographic approach to explore an experience of duration conceived via the work of French philosopher Henri Bergson, who posits that “pure duration [is that which] excludes all idea of juxtaposition, reciprocal externality, and extension” (Bergson, 1903/1999, p. 26). In other words, Bergson asserts that duration defies quantitative measurement. I argue that the Bergsonian experience of duration offers a pause from social acceleration and effects a transformation for the spectator in the form of peak-experience, flow, and communitas.
  • Music in the spaces of the 21st century

    Pattie, David; Sproston, Darren; Darlington, Bruce (University of Chester, 2016-01-31)
    Exploration of the changes modern digital technology has had on the act of engaging with music in the early 21st century.