School of Arts

 

About

I am Professor of Performance with research and teaching specialisms in contemporary performance, autobiography, applied and socially engaged theatre. I founded Kent’s Research Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance, led the AHRC funded project “Imagining Autism” and I am co-editor of Methuen’s Performance and Science series. Externally, I was Chair for the QAA Subject Benchmarking Review for Drama, Dance and Performing Arts (2014-15) and I am a member of the AHRC Peer Review College (academic, international, strategic, knowledge exchange).
My teaching and research integrates theory and practice, ethics and aesthetics in interdisciplinary contexts.  Throughout my career, I have worked across subject boundaries with publications in literature, film and social science as well as performance studies and theatre history. My current research brings me into dialogue with psychologists and neuroscientists through projects on drama and developmental psychopathology (e.g. autism and dementia). Complementing this is an ongoing pursuit and evaluation of the role of creative practice as embodied methodology and pedagogy. I am particularly interested in supervising PhD students with projects that might be facilitated through cross disciplinary team supervision (see Supervision).

Biog
A Joint degree in Drama and English and MA studies in feminist theory created the foundations for my future work and pursuit of practice based approaches to teaching and research. My discovery of a neglected corpus of autobiographical plays by women inspired my PhD and a passion for archival research. A PGCE at Cambridge initiated my interest in applied theatre prior to my first appointment in Cheltenham (now University of Gloucestershire). My extensive experience of curriculum development, academic leadership and educational management began here. I launched a new programme in Performance Arts, participated in the development of a modular degree scheme and the validation process for degree awarding powers. I also directed several productions at Shaftesbury Hall Theatre. After five years I moved to University College Worcester, playing a similar role in developing Drama within a modular scheme. Here I established a long standing relationship with C&T theatre company and developed postdoctoral research, publishing articles on gender, theatre and autobiography.
In 1999 I was appointed at Kent where I introduced modules and programmes in Contemporary Performance and Applied Theatre and participated in the development of the postgraduate Practice as Research programmes and initiated Kent's Graduate Theatre Company Scheme. I've played a variety of leadership roles at Kent to include being Director of Drama (2004-2007) and Deputy Head of the School of Arts (2010-2012).
I was founder and Director (2010-14) of Kent’s Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance, based in the School of Arts with cross-faculty engagement, a rapidly developing network and a programme of interdisciplinary events. This was a platform for the development of the Methuen Performance and Science series for which I am co-editor (with Professor John Lutterbie at Stony Brook University). I participate in a range of national and international subject networks, including SCUDD (Committee member 2008-2012), TaPRA, IFTR and Cognitive Futures in the Humanities (see External Roles). I also contribute to funded networks and a series of public and community engagement activities in education, health and participatory arts contexts (see External roles and activities).

Current activities
My work explores the cognitive and physiological processes involved in making, participating in and experiencing performance. In addition to publications I'm involved in practice based research projects in education, health and workplace contexts.  Following seed funding for a project on autism and drama in a local special school, I led the AHRC funded project, “Imagining Autism: Drama, Performance and Intermediality as Interventions for Autism. .As Principal Investigator for this practice-based project, I worked with an interdisciplinary team of drama researchers, practitioners and psychologists, to explore the potential of drama to facilitate communication, social interaction and imagination in children with autism (7-12 year olds). Adapting approaches derived from teaching contemporary performance practice (improvisation and intensive interaction in multisensory immersive environments), we designed workshop programmes for primary schools, developed and delivered training for arts workers and teachers as well as a programme of public engagement (including producing an experimental film documentary). In this project, the dynamic interaction between teaching and research involved using techniques from live art, Ting theatre, puppetry and interactive digital media. This work is continuing with residencies in arts centres, a developing programme of work for families as well as training for arts workers, education and health professionals. My latest research explores the female experience of autism through drama and interactive digital media.

I continue to be committed to transdisciplinary approaches to research, moving beyond disciplinary boundaries through the integration of theory and practice in conjunction with qualitative, creative and empirical methods. Throughout my teaching and research I seek to demonstrate the value of the arts and their importance in society.

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Publications

Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Book
Shaughnessy, N. (2012). Applying Performance: Live Art, Socially Engaged Theatre and Affective Practice. [Online]. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Available at: http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=388888.
Shaughnessy, N. et al. (2008). Margaret Woffington: lives of shakespearian actors part 1. Pickering & Chatto.
Shaughnessy, N. (2007). Gertrude Stein. Writers and their work. Plymouth: Northcote House.
Edited book
Shaughnessy, N. ed. (2013). Affective Performance and Cognitive Science: Body, Brain and Being. [Online]. London: Bloomsbury. Available at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/affective-performance-and-cognitive-science-9781408185773/.
Shaughnessy, N. and Shaughnessy, R. eds. (2008). Lives of Shakespearian actors, Part I: David Garrick, Charles Macklin and Margaret Woffington by their contemporaries. London: Pickering and Chatto.
Book section
Shaughnessy, N. (2017). Opening Minds: the Arts and Developmental Psychopathology. in: Williams, D. M. ed. Wiley Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology. John Wiley & Sons, pp. 61-86. Available at: http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118554558.html.
Shaughnessy, N. (2016). Curious Incidents: Pretend Play, Presence, and Performance Pedagogies in Encounters with Autism. in: Smagorinsky, P. ed. Creativity and Community among Autism-Spectrum Youth Creating Positive Social Updrafts through Play and Performance. Palgrave Macmillan US, pp. 187-216. Available at: http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137547965.
Shaughnessy, N. and Trimingham, M. (2016). Autism in the Wild: Bridging the Gap between Experiment and Experience. in: Garratt, P. ed. The Cognitive Humanities: Embodied Mind in Literature and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 191-211. Available at: http://www.palgrave.com/it/book/9781137593283.
Shaughnessy, N. (2016). Valuing Performance: Purposes at Play in Participatory Theatre Practice. in: Elliott, D., Silverman, M. and Bowman, W. eds. Artistic Citizenship Artistry, Social Responsibility, and Ethical Praxis. New York: Oxford University Press. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/artistic-citizenship-9780199393756.
Shaughnessy, N. (2015). Dancing with Difference: Moving towards a new aesthetics. in: White, G. ed. Applied Theatre: Aesthetics. London: Bloomsbury Methuen, pp. 87-122. Available at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/applied-theatre-aesthetics-9781472513557/.
Shaughnessy, N. (2011). Knowing Me, Knowing You: Autism, Kinesthetic Empathy and Applied Performance. in: Reynolds, D. and Reason, M. eds. Kinesthetic Empathy in Creative and Cultural Practices. Bristol: Intellect, pp. 33-50.
Shaughnessy, N. (2004). Breathe body of lovely death: the disappearing subject in Susan Glaspell's Auto/biographical Theatre. in: Gale, M. B. and Gardner, V. eds. Women, Theatre and Performance: Autobiography and Identity. Manchester University Press.
Shaughnessy, N. (2000). One, Two, Three: Sylvia Plath's Verse Dramas. in: Donnell, A. and Polkey, P. eds. Representing Lives: Women and Auto/biography. Macmillan, pp. 241-250.
Shaughnessy, N. (1996). Is s/he or isn't s/he?: Screening Orlando. in: Cartmell, D. ed. Pulping Fictions: Consuming Culture across the Literature/Media Divide. Pluto Press, pp. 43-56.
Shaughnessy, N. (1994). When this you see remember me: Three plays by Gertrude Stein. in: Griffin, G. ed. Difference in View. Taylor & Francis.
Article
Beadle-Brown, J. et al. (2017). Imagining Autism: Feasibility of a Drama-Based Intervention on the Social, Communicative and Imaginative behaviour of Children with Autism. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361317710797.
Trimingham, M. and Shaughnessy, N. (2016). Material Voices: intermediality and autism. Research in Drama Education [Online] 21:293-308. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569783.2016.1195121.
Trimingham, M. and Shaughnessy, N. (2016). Imagining the Ecologies of Autism. Applied Theatre Crossings.
Shaughnessy, N. (2013). Imagining Otherwise: Autism, Neuroaesthetics and Contemporary Performance. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews [Online] 38:321-334. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/0308018813Z.00000000062.
Shaughnessy, N. (2005). Truths and lies: towards a new methodology of performance applications. Research in Drama and Education:0-0.
Shaughnessy, N. (1997). Between the Scenes: Virginia Woolf's Freshwater. Women and Theatre: Occasional papers:35-67.
Shaughnessy, N. (1996). Theatres of Absurdity: pedagogy, performance and institutional politics. Studies in Theatre Production:39-53.
Review
Shaughnessy, N. (2009). Commentary on the empathising-systemising theory of autism: implications for education. Tizard Learning Disability Review [Online] 14:14-17. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13595474200900023.
Conference or workshop item
Beadle-Brown, J. et al. (2014). Imagining Autism: impact of a drama based intervention on the social communicative and imaginative behaviour of children with autism. in: 4th IASSID-Europe congress. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 343-343.
Richardson, L. et al. (2014). Imagining Autism: evaluation of a drama based intervention for children with autism-the views of teachers and parents. in: 4th IASSID-Europe congress. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 343-344.
Shaughnessy, N. and Trimingham, M. (2012). Autism Affects: cognition, kinesthetics and practice based research. in: Theatrical Histories - American Society for Theatre Research .
Shaughnessy, N. (2008). Does it Work? Prove it! Reflections on Efficacy and Ethics. in: Theatre and Performance Research Association.
Shaughnessy, N. (2008). Double Acts: Mirror Neurons & Applied Performance. in: Researching Applied Theatre and Performance Conference.
Visual media
Shaughnessy, N. and Turner, S. (2016). Imagining Autism: Now I see the World. [DVD]. Routledge, Taylor and Francis. Available at: https://www.routledgeperformancearchive.com/multimedia/video/imagining-autism-now-i-see-the-world.
Total publications in KAR: 29 [See all in KAR]

 

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Teaching

My teaching specialisms are contemporary performance, applied and socially engaged theatre, autobiographical and documentary drama.  Throughout my teaching I explore the relations between performer and audience, liveness and presence in performance; concepts of truth, fiction, authenticity and the ‘real’; identity and memory; documentation and archiving performance.
My teaching is research led and, to some extent, my research is teaching led as I continue to learn from my students. All my work integrates theory and practice through a commitment to embodied learning and creative practice. I teach the concept of the ‘affective practitioner’ committed to making work which is transformational, moving and unique.
My lectures are performative so students are required to be present (physically and intellectually). The lecture is an event which does more than communicate knowledge; students are actively engaged as learners (rather than consumers) building on my research on Gertrude Stein: ‘to make a play the essence of what happened.”
In the lecture and in the studio we are in an open, liminal space where questions are explored, knowledge is created, understanding is deepened and perspectives change. My practical teaching draws on pedagogies of cognition and play to engage students creatively and conceptually.

Modules developed/taught/convened at Kent include:
Contemporary Performance Practice (/MA); Applied Theatre; Performing Lives (Autobiography, Documentary and Performance); New Directions (contemporary approaches to theatre directing).

In conjunction with the Imagining Autism project and with my colleague Dr Melissa Trimingham, we regularly run programmes for training practitioners in the methods we use for interacting with autism (contemporary performance, puppetry, interactive digital media). For further information see www.imaginingautism.org.

Graduates include:

Accidental Collective:  Daisy Orton, Pablo Pakula, MDrama Contemporary Performance Practice, 2006).
Little Bulb:  Alex Scott, Claire Beresford, Dominic Conway, Shamira Turner (Graduates from MDrama’s Contemporary Performance Practice specialism, 2008-2010)
Kristin Fredrickson (Beady-Eye), MA PaR 2009)
Paul Hurley (live artist) BA2001
Veronica Needa (True Heart Theatre, Playback practitioner, MA PaR, 2009)
Paul Sutton, (Director/practitioner; founder of C&T PhD, 2007) 

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Research

  • Autism bookMy work is connected through interests in five interacting themes:
  • Identity in and through performance (gender, autobiography, neurodiversity);
  • Performance engaging with mental life and conditions of mind (e.g. autism, dementia)
  • Participatory and socially engaged performance (ethics, aesthetics and evaluation)
  • Interdisciplinary interactions between arts/science/health (e.g. cognitive approaches to theatre and performance; creative research methodologies)
  • Practice and play-based pedagogies

Current Projects

Performing Psychologies: Imagination, Creativity and Dramas of the Mind, with Philip Barnard, edited collection for Methuen Performance and Science series (publication in 2018)
“The Changing Faces of Autism”:  Seed funded project exploring changing representations of autism, drawing attention to autistic creativity and the female experience of autism, through drama and digital arts (2017-2018)

Externally funded activities/networks

Imagining Autism: Drama, Performance and Intermediality as Interventions for Autistic Spectrum Conditions (AHRC 2011-14 with ongoing programme of research and public engagement).  Principal Investigator with Dr Melissa Trimingham (Drama, Director of Production; Professor Julie Beadle-Brown (Tizard Centre) and Dr David Wilkinson  (Psychology).

Dementia, Arts and Well-Being Network (DA&WN) AHRC network, led by Justine Schneider, University of Nottingham
Autism and Ethics Network, led by Kristien Hens, University of Antwerp

Reviews

‘Affective Performance and Cognitive Science is a deft exploration of the kind of cross-disciplinary work that promises to contribute to a fundamental shift in the way we think about performance. Still, it progresses in considered, purposeful steps and remains quite accessible to those with little experience in the sciences. The essays provide both an effective entry point into cognitive studies for those rooted in the arts, as well as suggestive maps for future work, collaborative or otherwise. Shaughnessy illuminates the complex and fruitful space created by challenging binary separations of art and science, then she invites us to dance across it too’ (Robert J Vrtis, Theatre Journal
“At the beginning of writing, there is a loss, what cannot be said” (de Certeau, 1984, 195); Applying Performance: Live Art, Socially Engaged Theatre and Affective Practice (2012), by Nicola Shaughnessy, manages to say quite a lot about applied theatre, performance, cognitive science and affective theory. In fact, whether performances are viewed as decomposing presences moving toward memorable absence, whether they are meaningful social practices in educational, social or community contexts, whether they are inter-subjective, liminal spaces challenging traditional structures and frameworks, Shaughnessy uses her expert authority to prove that performance matters, and that it matters in an enormous way. yko-Head, CConsciousness, Literature and the Arts. 14(2). 

 'Applying Performance is a timely and engaging addition to the field, extending the scope and possibilities of what defines applied theatre, and pointing to emerging trends and thinking.' - Michael Balfour, Chair, Applied and Social Theatre, School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Australia
'Nicola Shaughnessy's book establishes her as the leading international authority on affective cognition in applied performances. Building on insights from previous scholars, she understands that the turn to affect undermines the older, Kantian distinction between useful and aesthetic theatre." Bruce McConachie, Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, University of Pittsburgh)
'Shaughnessy's writing is clear, concise, and leads readers into the complexity of Stein's [work] …Standard critical problems such as Cubism, Stein's style and thematic preoccupations, and the dialogues in her later dramas are dealt with succinctly.. ' (Year's Work in English Studies 2010)
A thoroughly compelling take on Susan Glaspell's 'disappearing subject' by Nicola Shaughnessy. In its thoughtful theorization of both the physical place of the playwright and the playwright's own preoccupations with place in her work…(Feminist Review, 84 2006)

Grants

‘The Changing Faces of Autism: Filming Futures.’ University of Kent Public Engagement with Research Award, 2017-2018, £1942

‘Beacon Institute: Illuminating Arts and Science, University of Kent 50th Anniversary Beacon Award, 2014-16, £97,450.

Now I see the World: Imagining Autism experimental film documentary (co-investigator, Sarah Turner) 1st September 2012-December 31st 2013, £10,000

‘Imagining Autism’, AHRC, Principal Investigator (Co-Investigators: Dr Melissa Trimingham, Dr Julie Beadle-Brown, Dr David Wilkinson) October 1st 2011-September 30th 2014, £344,187 grant (total project cost £429,277.06)

 ‘Puppetry and Play as Interventions for Autism’, Ideas Factory, 50% contribution (co investigator Dr Melissa Trimingham) September-March 2009-10, £8,875

‘All the World’s a Stage: Communication and Performance Techniques for the Workplace’, Ideas Factory, 35% contribution (co investigators, Dr Helen Brooks, Dr Daniela Peluza) September 2009-June 2010, £5,000

‘Beyond the Box: Creative Thinking and Innovation,’ Ideas Factory, 50% contribution (co investigator, Dr Helen Brooks) September 2009-June 2010, £5,000

Canterbury Blitz Community Project, National Lottery, 20% contribution (Co-investigator John Batchelor, Engineering and Digital Arts) September-March 2006-2007. £20,000

Prizes

University of Kent, Faculty of Humanities Research Prize, 2015

Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA): shortlisted for David Bradby TaPRA Award for Research in International Theatre and Performance (2014)

University of Kent, Innovation Project of the Year, 2011 (with Dr Melissa Trimingham for Imagining Autism)

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Supervision

I welcome applications from potential postgraduate students interested in pursuing research in my areas of expertise (to include PaR and interdisciplinary proposals):

  • Cognitive approaches to theatre and Performance
  • Applied and socially engaged theatre 
  • Identity in performance (gender, autobiography, neurodiversity)
  • Performance, psychopathology and mental health
  • Creativity research methods and pedagogy


Key terms: contemporary performance, live art, neuroscience, cognition, creativity, autobiography, autism, gender, well-being.

Prospective students would become members of the Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance.

Current Supervision (examples of ongoing or recently completed projects)

Astrid Breel: Conducting creative agency: the aesthetics and ethics of participatory performance

Hannah Newman: Investigation of how participatory performance (play-based drama activities developed for “Imagining Autism”) can contribute to diagnosis in autism (Phd studentship, jointly supervised between the Tizard Centre, Psychology and Drama with external supervision from Dr Yvonne Parkes, Consultant Padeiatrician, Kent NHS)

Robbie Wilson: Towards a Ludic Ecology: Popular Participatory Peripatetic Performance

Amanda McDowell: Performing a women's mental health archive: traumatised texts, haunted voices and diasporic visions

Philippa Strandberg-Long: The self-conscious actor: A study into Meisner technique, cognition and the use of attention in actor training.

Annette Foster: Autism, Performance and Identity: Articulating women and trans/nonbinary people’s experience of Autism through live art and performance.

Kent PhD completions

Roanna Mitchell: The body politics of acting in the context of training and the performance industry: perspectives from contemporary Britain.

Christopher Jones: "Antic Dispositions?": The Representation of Madness in Modern British Theatre

Deborah Leveroy: Enabling Performance: Dyslexia and Acting Practice

Paul Sutton: The Dramatic Property: a new paradigm of applied theatre practice for a globalised media culture 

 

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External

External Examining
BA Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Warwick, 2016-20
BA Theatre and Performance, University of Leeds (2015-18)
BA Drama and Theatre Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2011-15
BA Drama University of Northampton, 2009-13
FdA Performing Arts Bournemouth University, 2002-06
BA Drama Liverpool Hope University, 1999-2002

 

Other External Roles

Chair QAA Subject Benchmarking Review for Drama, Dance and Performing Arts (DDP) 2014-15

Member of QAA Drama, Theatre and Performance Benchmarking Panel (March 2007)

HE Expert for consultation on UCAS Tariff for Speech and Drama Awards (May 2006)

Panel Member for validation of Edexcel BTEC Foundation Degree in Performing Arts and Theatre (NVC, Nov 2005)

Board of Directors, Vayu Naidu Theatre Company, Education and Outreach, 2002-05

Professional Associations and Memberships

AHRC Peer Review College member, 2014-18

Standing Conference of University Drama Departments (SCUDD) 2008-12, Executive Committee Member (including Executive Committee representative for REF Working Party, 2010-11)

Imagining Autism

"Living with Autism" for Kent Multi Agency Autism Group (MAAG), NHS Community Health, June 21 2017

Residency at the Atkinson Arts Centre, Southport, March 6-16. Programme of training and workshops for schools with participants across the spectrum, aged 6-18.

Training events: Imagining Autism for Professionals (Atkinson & schools, March 8/14)

Autism Cafes (for families and carers) Atkinson & schools, March 13/16)

Screening of "Now I see the World" for Festival of the Brain, Quarterhouse, Folkestone, May 28 2016

"Imagining Autism: Extraordinary Aesthetics", London, June 2013 "Lifting the Curtain" Marlowe Theatre Canterbury, April 2013

The Funny thing about Autism" for "Lifting the Curtain" Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, April 2013)

In conjunction with the Imagining Autism project and with my colleague Dr Melissa Trimingham, we regularly run programmes for training practitioners in the methods we use for interacting with autism (contemporary performance, puppetry, interactive digital media). For further information see www.imaginingautism.org.

For National Autistic Society (NAS)

Invited speaker for NAS conference, on 'Understanding and Supporting Challenging Behaviour.'Presentation on 'the importance of play-based approaches for children with autism'. Reading, June 25 2015

Poster, presentation and workshop demonstration of "Imagining Autism" for NAS Professional conference, Harrogate, 2013

Programme of workshops for teachers in NAS residential schools: Sybil Elgar, Robert Ogden, Broomhayes, Radlett Lodge (January- December 2013)

Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise (ICE), University of Kent

'Drama in the Workplace' (with Dr H.E.M. Brooks, Dr D.Peluza and Accidental Collective Theatre Company). Workshop and performance, September 2009 with further outputs through lecture demonstration for Kent Enterprise, May 2010, paper for Theatre and Performance Research Association, September 2011 and presentation for CIDRA at Central School of Speech and Drama (HEA funded event on applied theatre and social enterprise), March 5 2012

Beyond the Box: Creative Thinking and Innovation,' (with Dr H.E.M.Brooks) Ideas Factory, September 2009-June 2010 Four part raining package: 'Collaborative strategies for team communication', 'Succeeding in the spotlight', 'Realising your creative potential' and 'Setting the scene for change'. Training courses profiled through presentations for Kent Business-to-Business Expo (2010) and the ICE launch, April 2010

'All the World's a Stage: Communication and Performance Techniques for Business', (with Dr H.E.M Brooks and Dr D.Peluza) Ideas Factory ? September 2009-June 2010

Other Activities

Invited Presentation: '" In sickness or in health? Creativity, well-being and performance in the work place" for Arts, Humanities and Well-Being, UEA 23 May 2016

Collaboration with "Extended Mind"

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Last Updated: 27/04/2017