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  • 2018shahphd

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We are capable of so much more: experiments in listening

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2018
Number of pages281
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This PhD works through practice and theory to investigate the relationship between listening and the theatrical encounter in the context of Western theatre and performance. Rather than looking to the stage for a politics or ethics of performance, I ask what work needs to happen in order for the stage itself to appear, exploring some of the factors that might allow or prevent a group of individuals to gather together as ‘audience’. The writing draws on a wide range of sources including the two practical components of the research and other contemporary performance practices, philosophies of listening and politics, communications theory, and theatre studies.
I begin by proposing that the theatrical encounter is a structure that prioritises the attentive over the declarative. Each of the five chapters that follows is an exploration of this proposition. The first two chapters propose readings for the terms ‘listening’ and ‘audience’, drawing primarily on Gemma Corradi Fiumara’s writing about the philosophy of listening and Stanley Cavell’s writing about being-in-audience. The third chapter reflects on the work of Lying Fallow, the first of two practice elements which were part of this research, asking whether and how this project aligns with the modes of listening that I have proposed thus far, and introducing Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s writing about the preposition ‘beside’ in relation to being-in-audience. In the fourth chapter, I examine the role of invitation in setting up the parameters for being-in-audience, in relation to Sara Ahmed’s writing about arrival and encounter. And in the fifth and final chapter, I introduce the second practice element, Experiments in Listening, using this project to expand my thinking about where and how the work of being-in-audience takes place.