Specialisations and methods
Research in the performing arts has largely evolved through individual projects and interests, which coincides with the pluralistic and inclusive approach within our faculty since research began, but also with how research has coalesced nationally.
During the first few years, significant focus was placed on how to articulate the work of performing artists – and artistic research. A need has existed to articulate and document experiences, processes and work methods and to develop a voice for performing artists (actors, singers, etc.) within research who traditionally have not been the ones articulating themselves regarding work in the theatre. This focus characterises early research-oriented projects in the unit. It has often involved documenting educational methods, analysing specific artistic practices and processes, usually in relation to a given theme, and formulating possible paths for artistic research.
From a national perspective as well, artistic research in theatre has largely come to focus on actors’ work, with a basis in professional skill, practical knowledge and professional research with the help of critical reflection on the actors’ work methods. In recent years, this perspective has expanded to include more professional functions, more cross-disciplinary artistic expressions, and also other ways of viewing the traditional professions. This trend is clear within performing arts research at the Academy of Music and Drama, which in recent years has taken interest in the position of the director in collaborative post-dramatic processes, in artistic forms in theatre and opera that are movement-based, site-specific, and participatory, and in gender-aware and intersectional perspectives. Research in opera and musical theatre is pursued nationally by singers, composers and directors. The field clearly borders musical research, including composition and interpretation, and the lines between them are often fluid. The Academy of Music and Drama is engaged in research and development based in particular on the singer’s perspective, often strongly connected to issues related to gender, interactivity and new artistic forms. Research in musical theatre and musicals is lacking today both nationally and internationally to a significant extent, and is an important area for future development.
Research methods in the performing arts are often performative, action-oriented, and experience-based, and focus on both highlighting and analysing the artistic process and on experimenting with and staging new experimental situations. The forms and methods of the performing arts are central to how the research is designed, but also take place in clear dialogue with scholarly fields such as philosophy, sociology, medicine and theatre and performance theory. Artistic research in the performing arts is developing and constantly testing new forms of writing and documentation in dialogue with other fields and with artistic research overall. For example, it is home to the development of auto-ethnographic and performative writing, graphic scores, different forms of physical and site-specific surveys, experiments with artistic formats such as libretto or play scripts, podcasts or film. It is striking that artistic forms and meta-reflections are often intertwined and stimulate one another. Performing arts formats such as performance lecture, research performance and essay theatre are being explored.
The collective and multidisciplinary nature of the performing arts keenly allows cross-disciplinary questions. There is a connection to common areas of interest within many fields, such as psychology, medicine and urban studies. One example of such a partnership is a collaborative doctoral project between the Academy of Music and Drama and GPCC (Sahlgrenska), which is studying how to use the work methods of actors and directors to develop methods and perspectives in person-centred care. Another example is the previous collaboration with an archive project in Critical Heritage Studies at GU, in a project on performing arts in urban and public spaces. It is essential to further develop the meeting points and longer-term collaborations between performance practices and other research areas.