Hannah Cummings

Department: Department of Drama
Discipline: Drama
Research Centre/Unit: PhD Drama

Project Summary

Hannah is currently in the second year of her PhD.  Included below is a work-in-progress abstract of her thesis to date.

Perspectival Shifts: Contemporary British Performance and the Intermediary State.

David Harvey suggests that the beginning of the nineties sought a way in which to evolve postmodern discourse. The following thesis analyses a range of case studies, across a twenty-year period (1994 – 2014), to explore and query subjective experience and the politics and ethics of a society dealing with a loss of confidence in the grand narrative of progress. In this way the thesis asks, ‘what, if anything, comes next?’.

Methodologically, the thesis explores the destabilisation of language, self, reality and place through a consideration of various case-studies divided into four chapters.  These include scripted performance, ensemble performance, spatial practices, and new-media performance. This thesis argues that contemporary British performance is encouraging awareness of the structures that dominate subjective experience, through the demonstration of the deconstructionist project,  invoking ethical questions about the subject's relationship to that which is other.

Contemporary performance is employing an intermediary state, which oscillates between the binary oppositions of metaphysics in a middle ground, to destabilise and question subjective experience.  The intermediary state offers a platform from which to defamiliarise the quotidian emphasising that our ability to change the world relies on our ability to change the way in which we experience and perceive the world. 

This thesis marks an historical moment in which contemporary performance is taking stock of what is means to be a subject in and of the world seeking beyond the cultural dominant from within contemporary discourse.  Informed by and informing society, this project establishes cultural reflection to query the relativity of experience, and notions of progress, demonstrating the importance of the arts.


Supervisory Team

  • Primary Supervisor: Anna Harpin
  • Secondary Supervisor: Jerri Daboo
  • Mentor: Jane Milling


Wider Research Interests

Contemporary performance, postdramatic performance, intermediary states, identity politics, deconstructionism, post-structuralism, postmodernity, ethics, philosophy.