Professor Pascale Aebischer

Research interests

My research is mostly situated at the intersection between the early modern playtext and theatrical culture on the one hand and present-day performance on the other, with a particular focus on bodies, gender, race, violence, ethics, media, or spectatorship - or all of these together. Past research and book projects include Shakespeare's Violated Bodies: Stage and Screen Performance (CUP, 2004),  Remaking Shakespeare: Performance Across Media, Genres and Cultures (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), Jacobean Drama (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), Performing Early Modern Drama Today (CUP, 2012, "Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2013") and Screening Early Modern Drama: Beyond Shakespeare (CUP, 2013) - which finally gave me the chance to also write about the cinema of Derek Jarman, a long-standing interest. Most recently, I collaborated with Susanne Greenhalgh (Roehampton) and Laurie Osborne (Colby) on Shakespeare and the 'Live' Theatre Broadcast Experience (Bloomsbury/Arden Shakespeare, 2018). This is the first collection of essays to concentrate exclusively on the phenomenon of how Shakespeare has, in the twenty-first century, been experienced as a “live” or “as-live” theatre broadcast by audiences around the world. The essays explore some of the precursors of this phenomenon, consider some of the most important companies that have produced such broadcasts since 2009 and examine the impact these broadcasts have had on branding, ideology, style and access to Shakespeare for international audiences. Contributors from around the world reflect on changing viewing practices, Shakespearean fan cultures and the use of social media by audience members for whom “liveness” is increasingly tied up in the experience economy. 

Working on my chapter on early modern performance and digital media for my last monograph got me thinking hard about the relationship between performance and technological innovation, past and present. I am ever more interested in the theatrical culture and performance environments of the early modern period, and in that context have contributed to workshops informing the reconstruction of the Whitehall Cockpit-in-Court (based on the Inigo Jones/John Webb designs) in Knowsley as part of Shakespeare North. I am also interested in the implications of the archaeological excavation of the Curtain Playhouse by Heather Knight (MOLA) and am working with Heather and Callan Davies (Roehampton) on how best to revise current narratives regarding early modern entertainments in North London in light of Heather's finds (see the MOLA website). 

In addition to that, I am finishing a monograph for Cambridge University Press (submission date: April 2019). Shakespeare, Spectatorship and the Technologies of Performance, builds on recent work in phenomenological approaches to performance and spectatorship, as well as on work on digital performance, scenography and theatre architecture and reconstruction. I am concerned with how the affordances of present-day performance technologies, both low-tech (as in the use of architecture and candlelight in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse) and high-tech (as in the use of digital technologies to transmit, enhance and expand on live performances), create new ways of understanding the spatial dynamics and dramaturgies of early modern drama. What, for example, happens to spatial relations, 'liveness' and the relationship between the spectator and the performance when a theatrical performance is transmitted live to a cinema near you?