Dr Rachel Hann
Practice-as-Research (PaR) has arguably entered a new phase of development and maturity. I argue that the ‘first wave’ of PaR debate was centred on the right to conduct research through practice and have this recognised within institutional frameworks. PaR PhDs in the UK are now commonplace and governmental research assessment exercises, such as the REF, readily accept PaR as an established research method. In order to celebrate and consolidate these achievements, I propose that a second wave of PaR discussions should be concerned with questions of accessibility and peer review. This position was confirmed by my attendance at the Goldsmiths The Future of Practice Research in June 2015 event. In the first instance, the event reassured me that I was not alone in wanting to move on from the defensive positions cultivated over the last 20 years. The proposal to focus on the future chimed with my own belief that the argument that 'practice matters' had been won (at least administratively). Secondly, the move away from the micro-politics of practice as/through/based/led was particularly welcome. I am therefore an out and out convert. ‘Practice Research’ works for me. It focuses on the wider issues related to how researchers share, apply and critique knowledge borne of practice.
Equally, the discussions at Goldsmiths were particularly timely. My colleague Dr. Victor Ladron de Guevara (Plymouth University) and I had undertaken a similar debate at the Theatre and Performance Research Association's (TaPRA) annual conference nine months prior. An outcome of this discussion was to approach the editors of Studies in Theatre and Performance (STP) and set up a new section devoted to sharing and promoting Practice Research projects called Practice Matters. Our agenda was simple: in order for Practice Research to evidence its knowledge claims, we require a peer-reviewed archive of related projects. We believe that practice research outcomes should be shared and interrogated as part of a sustainable peer-reviewed multi-media archive. Practice Matters is one response to this call for action. In that regard, I ask in this presentation what might a second wave of practice research focus on and how might we collectively argue the long-term accessibility and disciplinary recognition of knowledge borne through practice.
Dr. Rachel Hann is a Lecturer in Scenography at the University of Surrey. Her research is focused on the material cultures of costume, performance design, and architecture. She is a co-editor of Practice Matters, a new practice research section for Studies in Theatre and Performance(first issue due 2017), as well as an Associate Editor (reviews for the journalTheatre and Performance Design. In 2013, Rachel co-founded the biennial conference and exhibition Critical Costume. This initial event produced a co-edited special issue of Scene (Intellect) on costume practices. Critical Costume has now gone on to establish itself as an international research network with events in Helsinki and Prague (see criticalcostume.com). Rachel is currently in the process of writing a monograph entitled ‘Beyond Scenography’ for Routledge (due 2017). Since 2014, Rachel has been an Executive Officer for the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA), having previously co-convened the Scenography working group (2010-2013). At the University of Leeds, Rachel’s PaR PhD thesis employed computer-based 3D visualization as a research method to investigate unrealized utopian theatre architecture (see utopiantheatres.co.uk).