Theatre & Visual Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century

Funded by the AHRC, this collaborative research project examines theatre spectacle and spectatorship in the long nineteenth century by considering it as a significant and integrated part of visual culture. Katherine Newey and Kate Holmes are collaborating with Jim Davis and Patricia Smyth at the University of Warwick Theatre & Performance Studies department.

Our focus is on how the nineteenth century ushered in a revolution in the way people looked and were looked at and how theatrical spectacle was both a facet and reflection of modernity in Britain (with France providing a comparative study). By looking at the interactions between staging, new technologies, and the visual arts we want to consider:

  • how spectacle and scenography contributed to the action of a production, rather than functioning as a static pictorial background;
  • the ways in which familiar pictorial images took on new meanings on stage;
  • the agency of spectators in actively interpreting the meanings produced by stage spectacle;
  • how pre-naturalist staging can be seen as innovative and experimental; and,
  • nineteenth-century illusionism in relation to changing definitions of the ‘real’.

Running from 2018-21, we will be organising conferences, exhibitions and public engagement activities, working with partners at the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, University of Bristol Theatre Collection and Promenade Promotions.

Visuality and the Theatre in the Long Nineteenth Century
Conference 27-29 June 2019 at the University of Warwick
Call for Papers: Visuality and the Theatre in the Long Nineteenth Century (closing date 28 February 2019)

To keep up to date with how our project develops see or follow us on twitter @theatviscult