College: College of Humanities
Department: Department of Drama
Research Centre/Unit: PhD Drama
Hannah Cummings is from Banbridge, Northern Ireland.
Hannah graduated from Queens University Belfast, in 2009, with a First Class Honours degree in Drama and a wealth of practical experience. Following this she spent a year working as an actress and travelling.
Influenced by her travels, Hannah enrolled in an AHRC funded MA at the University of Exeter to explore Phillip Zarrilli's system of intercultural, psychophysical actor training.
As a result of Zarrilli's pre-expressive training, designed to develop an optimal state of readiness in the performer, Hannah developed a keen interest in concepts of presence in the theatre, which she explored through multi-media performance and her MA thesis. Specifically, her master’s thesis considered the task of the actor in postmodern performance; asking what the task of the actor in postmodern performance is and how the actor contends with these tasks or challenges.
With the intention of further exploring concepts of presence in performance Hannah remained at the University of Exeter and embarked on a fully funded PhD. However, her research soon diversified as she began to question the importance of theatre in contemporary society. Consequently, Hannah's thesis identifies an historical moment whereby contemporary British performance (1994 – 2014) is exploring the destabilisation of the concepts of language, self, reality and place through various different forms of performance and an intermediary state. The forms discussed include scripted performance, ensemble performance, new-media performance and spatial practices. Hannah's research questions include:
- In what ways have British theatre makers sought to explore intermediary states since 1994?
- How far do these strategies of performance affect notions of language, self, reality and place?
- What are the ethics of such an exploration in relation to notions of responsibility and subjective experience in the contemporary moment?
- To what extent is this a response to deconstructionism and postmodernity and what are the resulting implications for culture and society?