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.

Working on my chapter on early modern performance and digital media for my last book 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 am contributing to discussions about the reconstruction of the Whitehall Cockpit-in-Court (based on the Inigo Jones/John Webb designs) in Knowsley as part of Shakespeare North.

In addition to that, I am working on two book projects:

Shakespeare and the 'Live' Theatre Broadcast Experience is a collection of essays, co-edited with Susanne Greenhalgh and Laurie Osborne, which is forthcoming with Arden Bloomsbury in 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. 

My current monograph project for Cambridge University Press, 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?

Alongside my personal research, I have since 2012 been General Editor of Shakespeare Bulletin a peer-reviewed quarterly journal published by Johns Hopkins University Press and dedicated to studying the performance of early modern drama, from the early modern period to the present, across a broad range of cultures and media. You can follow the journal on Twitter (@ShaxBull) and on facebook. Or you can follow my personal Twitter feed @PascaleExeter.