Practice-Based Research

Marchinko copy

The Graduate Program in Theatre & Performance Studies provides a number of rich opportunities for students to explore performance-based research as part of our commitment to emphasizing synergies of theory and praxis.  At York, we recognize that performance is not only an object of research, but can also constitute a form of research in itself.  York's MA/PhD program is nourished by its connections with professors in the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design who are both practicing artists and artist-researchers.

MA/PhD students participate in Department of Theatre productions, serving as performers, dramaturgs, and directors, designers, etc.  For example, graduate students in Theatre and Performance Studies are invited to collaborate with MFA students each September in a collective creation project, devising a performance piece based on the myths of a particular culture. Our students also participate in joint studio classes with MFA students on Solo Performance Creation, Movement-based Theatre, and more. Our students also regularly collaborate with T&PS faculty members on large-scale practice-based research projects; most recently students have developed performances with Professor Michael Greyeyes' company Signal Theatre, Professor Sheila Cavanagh's Libido Productions, Professor Laura Levin's The Performance Studies (Canada) Project, as well as York's Future Cinema Lab, Augmented Reality Lab, Professor Doug Van Nort's DisPerSion Lab, and Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology. Additionally, our students frequently initiate their own performance creation projects, both on and off campus, that are directly linked to their research interests and, in many cases, are the central focus of their master's and doctoral work (e.g. Helene Vosters, Unravel: A Meditation on the Warp and Weft of Militarism and Impact Afghanistan WarAidan Dahlin Nolan (aka Ranger Aidan), Community Canoe; Thea Fitz James's Naked Ladies; and many more). 

The Graduate Program in Theatre & Performance Studies regularly hosts workshops and annual Summer Institutes that bring exciting national and international guest artists to campus to work with our students.  In the past, students have taken workshops and Summer Institutes with (among many others): multidisciplinary artists Stephen Lawson and Aaron Pollard of Montreal's 2boys.tv; performance curator Shauna Janssen of Urban Occupations Urbaines; Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver of Split Britches; performance activists The Yes Men; solo artist and culture jammer Kristina Wong; Centro Hemisférico director Doris Difarnecio; Master carver and mask maker Mike Dangeli; British live artist Adrian Howells; performance artists Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Roberto Sifuentes; performance artist Victoria Stanton; playwright and educator Julie Salverson; actor and director Johanna Schall; Nigerian playwright Femi Osofisan; Mario Biagini, Associate Director of the Workcenter for Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards.

We offer several courses that foreground performance as research, such as our Performance Laboratory course in which students create original performance pieces drawing on their areas of research expertise, and Cultural Production Workshop, which combines critical cultural theory and environmental studies with the practice of cultural production (among several other courses). Other courses, including Theories of Praxis, Performance Art, Performance Ethnography, Performing Objects & Theatrical Things, Sound: Experimental Practices, Critical Studies, Imaging Urban Geographies, and Spectacular City provide opportunities to develop original, theoretically grounded performance work.

Photo above: PhD student Elan Marchinko tests out what she calls "foot poetics" (research carried out through "metatarsals") in Chai Folk Ensemble's Shir Mishmar/Protect Your Soul, 2015. Photo by Jordan Nepon