Listen to recordings of a selection of our past keynotes, panels and public conversations below.
- Theatre Conversation: James Shapiro interviews Colin Teevan (May 2013): A conversation between Colin Teevan (lecturer & playwright, Birkbeck) and Professor James Shapiro (Larry Miller Professor of English, Columbia). Listen here.
- Theatre Conversation: To pay or not to pay? (May 2013): How prevalent is voluntary work in the theatre sector? What is the future of the fringe and unfunded work if legislation outlaws voluntary labour? Is unpaid work a necessary part of an early career, or exploitation? A panel and audience discussion with guests including Anthony Biggs (artistic director of Jermyn Street Theatre) and Paul Fleming (Equity). Listen here.
- Symposium: Actors and Employability, Birkbeck & Drama UK (July 2013): A panel of performing arts specialists gathered at a symposium held at Birkbeck, University of London to discuss the findings of research conducted by Drama UK, and the reality of the UK’s drama students’ employment prospects. Listen here.
- Writing for a Shakespearean Stage: New plays for the Globe (May 2014): For the past seventeen years, the reconstructed Shakespeare’s Globe has played host to many productions of plays originally written for Elizabethan and Jacobean theatres. But what is the Globe like as a space for the presentation of new writing? How do playwrights approach the task of writing new plays for this distinctive stage? This panel discussion was part of Birkbeck Arts Week 2014. Listen here.
- Interpreting Shakespeare Through Performance (May 2015): How can performance help students to engage in analysis and interpretation of Shakespeare? This panel of university lecturers and school teachers investigated the dynamic relationship between page, stage and screen, and the implications for understanding Shakespeare inside and outside the classroom. Panellists included Emma Smith (Oxford University), Paul Larochelle (South Hampstead High School) and Gillian Woods (Birkbeck). Listen here.
- Theatre Conversation: Worlds Elsewhere (May 2015): We marked the paperback launch of Worlds Elsewhere (Bodley Head, 2015), the critically celebrated book on Shakespeare as a global phenomenon by Centre Fellow Andrew Dickson. Andrew discussed how Shakespeare’s plays have been reimagined in performance all over the world with early modern theatre scholar Sabine Schülting (Freie Universität Berlin). Listen here.
- Symposium: On Going On: Sustaining Life in Theatre (June 2015): This one-day symposium came at the end of a year’s exploration of desire in theatre at Birkbeck Centre of Contemporary Theatre. The intention of the symposium was to extend desire to ideas of support, wellbeing, welfare and overall sustainability of self and others from multiple angles.
— Keynote dialogue between Alan Read and David Slater
— Panel discussion between Andrew McKinnon, Roz Paul, Sara Wookey, Julius Green, Paul W. Fleming
- Symposium: Conventions of Proximity in Art, Theatre and Performance (May 2016): Conventions of Proximity in Art, Theatre and Performance was a symposium that took place in May 2016, co-hosted by Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre and Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture, and supported by Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image. Over a day and a half, artists and writers shared their work on proximity as an idea and as a practice. From the early modern to the contemporary, in examples drawn from southeast Asia to the global north, the symposium explored proximity in relation to a diverse range of topics, including digital networks, architectural design, home, public space, cinema, loneliness, friendship, listening, darkness, museum display, and music. Professor Maaike Bleeker (Utrecht) gave the keynote address. Listen here.
- Theatre Conversation: The Complete Deaths (May 2016): At the 2016 Brighton Festival, physical comedy ensemble Spymonkey premiered The Complete Deaths – a compendious enactment of all 75 on-stage deaths found in Shakespeare. The show’s director Tim Crouch (An Oak Tree, The Author, Adler & Gibb) and critic Andrew Dickson (New Yorker, New Statesman, Guardian) discussed the deaths incarnated in Shakespeare’s plays and the show’s distinctive approach to re-imagining them. Listen here.
- Theatre Conversation: Approaching Socially Engaged Practice (May 2016): Creative producer and Centre Fellow Elizabeth Lynch convened a discussion on how artists are approaching the creation of socially engaged practice. The event asked: as the 2010s unfold, who are the new allies in making socially engaged practice? How do artists know what they are doing is working? What is shifting or changing as a result of artists’ interventions, and what has to be disrupted? Participants included Omar Elerian (Bush Theatre), Alinah Azadeh (artist), Miriam Nelken (Creative Barking & Dagenham) and Simon Poulter (Close & Remote). Listen here.
- Symposium: Theatres of Contagion: Infectious Performance (May 2017): On Thursday 11 and Friday 12 May, we hosted an international conference exploring themes of contagion and infection in performance and across disciplines, asking: how have theatre and performance represented, examined or been implicated in the transmission and circulation of medical and psychological conditions? How has our understanding of these relationships and phenomena changed over time, across cultures, including via developments in interdisciplinary practice and inquiry? Scholars and artists from across the world gave presentations addressing contexts from the medieval period to the contemporary, and keynote lectures and performances were given by Bridget Escolme (QMUL), Dickie Beau, David Slater and Entelechy Arts, Stephen Frosh (Birkbeck), Richard P. Mann (Leeds), Emily Senior (Birkbeck) Matthew Weait (Portsmouth), and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (Oxford). Download abstracts and biographies here.
— Kirsten Shephard-Barr keynote
— Interdisciplinary panel one
— Interdisciplinary panel two
- Andy Smith: Dematerialising Theatre (May 2017): For the last fifteen years, both alone and in collaboration with Tim Crouch (An Oak Tree, Adler & Gibb), theatre-maker Andy Smith has been involved in creating a large body of work. He refers to this as a ‘dematerialised theatre’ – a theatre that attempts to do more with less. This talk reviews some of the principles of the practice, and explores some of its origins. Listen here.
- Bill Gaskill: symposium, discussion, celebration (May 2017): Bill (William) Gaskill was one of the most influential theatre directors in post-war UK theatre. He helped define the mission of the Royal Court in its early days and directed many celebrated productions for the Royal Court, the National Theatre and the RSC. He was also a dedicated teacher, mentor and friend to many writers and directors such as Max Stafford-Clark, Peter Gill and Nadia Latif. Theatre artists, critics and scholars discussed Bill Gaskill’s work and influences in a series of discussions over the day, convened by Birkbeck’s Rob Swain and David Eldridge. Contributors included Peter Gill, Professor Dan Rebellato, Nicholas Wright, Max Stafford-Clark, Wunmi Mosaku, Christopher Hampton, Ken Cranham and Nadia Latif. The first panel featured Peter Gill, Irving Wardle and Dan Rebellato (RHUL), and was chaired by Colin Teevan (Birkbeck). Listen to the first panel here.
- Birkbeck Voices: the Monday Medley (May 2018): Listen to Constellations Theatre Company, Birkbeck Artist in Residence Lily Hunter Green and Centre Fellow Brian Logan (Artistic Director, Camden People’s Theatre) discuss their contributions to Arts Week 2018. Listen here.