The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T +44 (0)1227 764000
Dr Melissa Trimingham
Drama and Theatre Studies
- 01227 82(3560)
Contemporary performance, puppetry, the Bauhaus stage and applied theatre are all central to Melissa Trimingham’s teaching and research.
Dr Melissa Trimingham is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Drama. She studied English at St Anne’s College, Oxford and worked at the BBC and the new Lyric Theatre Hammersmith. She helped to found Horse and Bamboo Theatre Company in Lancashire in the early 1980s. After freelance directing work and teaching she undertook a PhD at the University of Leeds where she was one of the first practitioners to base her doctorate study on practice, obtaining her PhD in 2001.
Dr Trimingham took up a post as Lecturer in Drama at the University of Kent in 2004. Her publications include a seminal essay on the methodology of practice as research and articles on the theatre of the Bauhaus. Her monograph The Theatre of the Bauhaus: the Modern and Postmodern Stage of Oskar Schlemmer is published by Routledge, 2011.
Dr Trimingham is co-director with Dr Nicola Shaughnessy of the University of Kent’s Research Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance (CKP). She is co-investigator on the major Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project Imagining Autism (running 2011- 2013) investigating intermedial drama and performance interventions with autistic children, using light, sound, puppetry, masks and digital media. She is consultant to the Barbican Art Gallery on their Bauhaus exhibition in summer 2012 ‘Art as Life’, delivering workshops and a guest lecture.
Dr Trimingham frequently collaborates with Torsten Blume, Director of the Bauhaus Stage Workshop at Dessau, and this resulted in a joint project with Kent Architecture in September 2011 on urban regeneration, Walking in Motion. Future plans include developing this work in collaboration with the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate.back to top
- (2011)The Theatre of the Bauhaus: the Modern and Postmodern Stage of Oskar Schlemmer, Routledge
- Review: Bauhaus DreamHouse: Modernity and Globalization. By
Katerina Rüedi Ray. London and New York: Routledge,
- (2010), ‘Objects in transition: The puppet and the autistic child’, Journal of Applied Arts and Health 1: 3, pp. 251–265
- (2004) ‘Sehr geehrter Herr Schlemmer’, Performance Research 9.1 special guest issue, ‘Correspondence’
- (2004) ‘Oskar Schlemmer’s Research Practice at the Dessau Bauhaus’ Theatre Studies International 29.2 (2004)
- (2002) ‘A Methodology for Practice as Research’, Studies in Theatre and Performance 22.1 54-60
- ‘Der Bau als Bühne, das Bühne als Bau: the Bauhaus Lighthouse’, Art as Life exhibition catalogue, Barbican Gallery, 2012
- (planned) PSi (Performance Studies International) University of Leeds, June 2012: with Dr Nicola Shaughnessy, ‘Autism Affects’, shift (Imagining Autism); and a joint paper with Dr Shaughnessy: panel with Prof Robert Shaughnessy, Dr Rosemary Klich, Dr Pablo Pakula : ‘Pause; Audience engagement and the blurring of boundaries in participatory performance: a practical investigation’.
- Psi Utrecht ‘Caring not Curing’, joint paper with Dr Nicola Shaughnessy, shared panel with Dr Cristel Staelpart and Dr Katerina Pweny, University of Ghent, June 2011
- ‘Health Acts’ Exeter University April 2011, joint paper with Dr Nicola Shaughnessy
- TaPRA Scenography Working Group Conference, Sacklar Centre, Victoria and Albert Museum, ‘Writing Performance: a Provocation’, January 2011 followed by book launch of The Theatre of the Bauhaus: the Modern and Postmodern Stage of Oskar Schlemmer, hosted by TaPRA Scenography group
- Vorstellungsvermögen, Stiftung Dessau Bauhaus, November 2010, invitation to launch monograph on the Bauhaus stage and open a panel discussion
- PSi (Performance Studies International) Conference, Utrecht, May 2011, ‘I feel your Pain: Caring not Curing’, joint ‘shift’ presentation with Dr Nicola Shaughnessy, UKC, and Dr Katherina Pewny and Dr Christel Stalpaert of Ghent University
- TaPRA conference, University of Glamorgan, September 2010, joint paper with Dr Nicola Shaughnessy, 'Autism: Touching Minds'
- IFTR International Federation for Theatre Research, Munich, July 2010, 'The Legacy of the Modernist Stage at the Bauhaus'
- PARIP (Practice as Research in Performance) International Conference, University of Leeds, June/July 2005 'Performance Robotics: Iterative Cycles of Knowledge Development', joint presentation and workshop with Prof. Mick Wallis (University of Leeds), Dr Sita Popat (University of Leeds) and Dr Gordon Ramsay (Loughborough University): Performance Robotics Research Group
- PixelRaiders Conference Sheffeld Hallam University, 6-8 April 2004 'Performance and Robotics: A Phenomenological Dialogue', paper, joint writer with Prof.Mick Wallis and Dr Sita Popat (University of Leeds) and Gordon Ramsay (Loughborough University): Performance Robotics Research Group
- PARIP (Practice as Research in Performance) Conference, University of Bristol, September 2003, presentation 'Creativity and Control', an analysis of light using a scene from a practice as research project
- PARIP Symposium October 2001, poster presentation on the phenomenology of light, sound, space and plasticity
- PSi International Conference April 1999 Aberystwyth, Wales, 'Research Demands:Creative Minds' on methodology in practical research
Dr Trimingham teaches both theoretical and practical classes. Her lecture and seminar series on the history of performance art for example (now from Wagner to the Virtual) is a second year history and theory based module which traces the development of avant garde performance through the twentieth century from the perspective of the visual arts, and this material is reconfigured in a practice based module in the third year (Performance: Twentieth and Twenty-first Century). In many ways this epitomises Dr Trimingham’s approach to historical studies of the avant-garde, actively demonstrating the links between past and present, and showing how these ideas can be translated into making contemporary work. She published a book on the stage of the Bauhaus of the 1920s entitled The Theatre of the Bauhaus: the Modern and Postmodern Stage of Oskar Schlemmer, in which she demonstrated the absolute relevance of an experimental stage that existed 80 years ago to contemporary performance practice.
She also teaches visual or ‘scenographically driven’ theatre, where the visual and sonic elements of the stage come to the fore. This includes puppetry, which she has pioneered in the Kent Drama curriculum. She has convened Theatre Workshop (now Theatre Skills) in Year 1 which benefits from this creative approach to the stage crafts of scenic arts, sound and light. The picture shows first year students with a puppet made on this module under the supervision of Sam Westbury in the drama workshop. This work is developed through her module Making Performance in Year 2 where students have the chance to produce highly visual and original pieces of theatre, including puppetry of all kinds (shadow, ultra violet and hand held figures). Dr Trimingham has a specialist research interest in puppetry, and is currently investigating puppetry as a tool for developing communication with autistic children.
Courses and modules taught/convened
- The History of Performance Art, 1900-1970 (now From Wagner to the Virtual)
- Theatre Skills (stage practice)
- Making Performance (puppetry)
- Performance: Twentieth and Twenty-first Century
- Applied Theatre (MDrama)
- Contemporary Performance Practice (MDrama)
- European Theatre (MA)
- Practice as Research (MA PaR)
MA Practice as Research supervisionback to top
Dr Trimingham’s current research centres on embodiment, phenomenology, the plastic and sonic properties of scenographic space, and puppetry. She investigates the connections between the ‘materiality’ of performance and the autistic perception of the world.
Dr Trimingham is co-director with Dr Nicola Shaughnessy of the University of Kent’s Research Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance (CKP). She is co-investigator on the AHRC funded project Imagining Autism (2011-2013) investigating intermedial drama and performance interventions with autistic children, using light, sound, puppetry, masks and digital media. The project is run in conjunction with the Tizard Unit at Kent University and the Psychology Department, applying quantitative and qualitative measures to the work. She is responsible for all production aspects of the project as well as delivering the research outcomes.
Dr Trimingham is consultant to the the Barbican Art Gallery on their exhibition in summer 2012 ‘Art as Life’ on the Bauhaus, including workshops and a guest lecture. Dr Trimingham collaborates with Torsten Blume, Director of the Bauhaus Stage Workshop at Dessau, and this resulted in a joint project with Kent Architecture in September 2011 Walking in Motion. Live images of passers by and performers were projected on the facade of the Westgate Towers in Canterbury as part of a larger project investigating urban movement in connection with urban regeneration.
Publications include a seminal essay on the methodology of practice as research and articles on the theatre of the Bauhaus. Her monograph The Theatre of the Bauhaus: the Modern and Postmodern Stage of Oskar Schlemmer is published by Routledge, 2011.
Applied Theatre and Performance
Puppetry and autism
Cognition and performance
Puppets and Object Theatre
Bauhaus stage and early Modernism
Scenography and architecture
Methodology in practical research
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Dr Trimingham is currently supervising a doctorate student who is establishing synergies between the training of actors and dyslexic learning. She is external examiner for PhD students in Central School of Speech and Drama and Royal Holloway. She has supervised and examined postgraduate students studying Drama Practice as Research MA, and MA by thesis, as well as taught MAs.
Dr Trimingham is interested in hearing from students wanting to study at postgraduate level in areas such as
- Puppetry: twentieth century and contemporary
- Contemporary theatre, mise en scène, visually led stages
- the twentieth century avant garde
- the Bauhaus and its stage
- the interface of philosophy and performance, history of phenomenology/embodiment
- the synergy between visual art and performance
- performance art past and present
- special needs, autism and performance
- theatre interventions