Posted on: 31st January, 2014
25th November, 2020
In 2014 I published a short manifesto with Scene Journal, arguing that scholars should take greater account of craft practices at the theatre. Since then, my research has taken me in two directions.
First, for my current monograph project, I have been considering the politics of craft within popular Irish cultures of virtuosity, asking how craft applies to the work of both the costume maker and the performer. Second, I have investigated craft through my collaboration with the National Theatre’s costume department for an exhibition of their work in 2019.
For this paper I will revisit my manifesto to ask what happens to our paradigms of performance when we take account of the practices and politics of craft both backstage and onstage. How does theatre “look” and what does it mean for those who make or work backstage? How can the utopian drive of craft theory organise our understanding of the work of performers as well as technicians? And, ultimately, what’s gender got to do with it?
Dr Aoife Monks is a Reader in Theatre and Performance Studies at Queen Mary University of London. She is the author of two books on costume – The Actor in Costume (Palgrave, 2010) and, with the costume designer Ali Maclaurin, Costume: Readings in Theatre Practice (Palgrave, 2014). She is the curator of the exhibition Costume at The National Theatre, at the NT Wolfson Galleries (2019) and wrote a series of short essays to accompany the photography book for the exhibition. She is QMUL Arts and Culture Academic Lead and is currently working on a monograph examining the status and meaning of virtuosity in Irish popular culture.
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