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Department of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies

Research in the Department

Logo for the Sacred Places ConferenceSacred Places: Performances, Politics and Ecologies – A Multidisciplinary Perspective

Liverpool Hope University,Liverpool, April 20-21, 2017 Drama, Dance and Performance Studies Department Conference

Conference organised by the Research Cluster ‘Cartographies of Belonging’, in partnership with the Working Group ‘Performance, Religion and Spirituality’ (PRS) of  the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies.

Organising Team: Annalaura Alifuoco, Silvia Battista, Kris Darby, Simon Piasecki, Rachel Sweeney. 



Sacred Places: Performances, Politics and Ecologies. A Multidisciplinary Perspective is a two-day conference aimed at investigating the actuality of sacred places in contemporary society; their practices and performances, politics and ecologies. The overarching theoretical umbrella is the perspective of Performance Studies, which offers a prolific framework for multidisciplinary engagement and exchange. 

Sacer, from which the term sacred derives, defines an area that stands apart; the Hebrew term k-d-sh, which is usually translated as “holy”, is based on the idea of separation; and the Latin word templum is derived from the Greek templos, of which the root tem means “to cut out” (Tuan 1978, 84). According to the geographer Yi-Fu Tuan the activity of differentiating the undifferentiated space through the establishment of sacred places is an operation analogous to the geographer’s cartographic activity of mapping a territory. Both are attempts at confining nature within demarcated bounds.

Sacred places might refer to landscapes, operating rooms, scientific laboratories, theatrical spaces, rehearsal studios, religious architectures, museums, rooms in houses, street corners, gardens, stones, trees, the body, archives, etc. Depending on the cultural contexts, sacred places become points of arrival and departure; locations for personal and collective transformations; sites where the given confines of nature and culture are re-negotiated. In addition, sacred locations are becoming increasingly involved in issues of social and environmental justice, peace and conflict, resistance and activism, potentially having an impact on the political, economic, historical, and cultural developments of our time.

This event is part of the ongoing research project of Liverpool Hope University’s Research Cluster ‘Cartographies of Belonging’, and the first of a series of activities designed to create a web of networks that examine and redefine the terms of human agency in relation to the environment, at both a micro- and macrocosmic level. The main objective is to set up a trans disciplinary platform from which to engage critically with the function and role that sacred places might play in intervening in the present ecological, social and ethical crisis.

Keynote Speakers

Dr Joshua Edelman, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Contemporary Arts at the Manchester Metropolitan University; international artist Anne Bean working with installation, large-scale sculpture, sound art, and performance art; Prof Andy Newsam, astrophysicist at Liverpool John Moores University; international artist Louise Anne Wilson working within biological-sciences, ecology, art, and performance.


Early Bird: £120 (Deadline 28th February 2017)
Full: £140
Postgraduate: £100

This includes: 

  • Four keynote speakers 
  • Two performances 
  • An exhibition 
  • Video installation 
  • Two workshops 
  • Morning walk and collective ritual (Optional on Saturday) 
  • Two days of Butoh workshops (Optional on Saturday and Sunday) 
  • Tea/coffee 
  • Two-course lunch self-service 
  • Two-course dinner self-service

Useful links

Research Excellence Framework 2014

67% of the research of this Department is at least at an internationally recognised level. 80% of their Impact is rated as internationally recognised.

Lecturers in the Department are published authorities in their fields and bring an in-depth knowledge to bear on postgraduate teaching and research. Popular theatre is an emerging research field at the University and there are PhD students working on various aspects of performance analysis in the department. A feature of the Department is the use of the 'Moodle' Virtual Learning Environment which will facilitate communication and the dissemination of specialist research materials.

The Department plays host to the UK’s only postgraduate course in the field of contemporary popular theatre. If you have an interest in the plays of established writers such as John Godber, Willy Russell or Jim Cartwright or the emerging work of Richard Bean, Amanda Whittington or Roy Williams then the Contemporary Popular Theatres course will provide a suitably rigorous academic framework for further study.

The Department builds on established undergraduate provision in Popular and Mainstream Theatre, balancing programmes of study providing opportunities for academic and practical analysis of the field of contemporary popular theatre. The Department is based at the Creative Campus near Liverpool city centre and makes effective use of the proximity of the Everyman Archive and the Royal Court popular theatre season. The Artistic Director of the Hull Truck Theatre, John Godber, is currently Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at the University and has strong links with the university; Godber’s SOLD (2007) played a sell-out run on campus as part of the Cornerstone Festival.

Hear more about the Department's research

Current research students

Ms Carmel Cleary, Doctoral Researcher

PhD Title: The invisibility of class in contemporary theatre

Director of Studies: Dr Jenny Daggers


Performing Justice Research Seminar

Performing Justice is a research initiative developed out of the Drama, Dance and Performance Studies department and has run since 2012. Its key objective is to support social and environmental justice work across the department, faculty and university through the creation and dissemination of research into the complex relationship between performance work and social justice. It has three distinctive strands:

  • External Speakers (invited speakers from UK and overseas) Past speakers have included John Barker (The Angry Brigade), Malcolm Miles (Professor in the School of Architecture, Design and Environment, Plymouth University), Zoe Mavroudi (Actor, Writer and Director) and Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir.
  • Internal Speakers (Liverpool Hope University researchers)
  • Reading/Screening Group (a discursive format for ‘brushing up’ on theoretical approaches through the reading or screening of key thinkers and perspectives).

Further details will be released soon.