Theatre and performance photography: documentation and the unlive.
Although theatre and performance photographs often illustrate scholarly works on theatre and performance, and despite recent interest in links between theatre and the still image from both theatre practitioners and theorists, there remains relatively little critical work on theatre photography. This thesis examines theatre photography, implementing approaches that are a departure from habitual conceptions of the photograph as document. Taking the intersection of theatre and photography as a vantage point, this thesis considers how photography might shape theatre rather than recording it, and how this might challenge notions of theatre's constitution, summoning theatre's own stillness, its citation, and its spectrality. This consideration takes place via analysis of a series of instances of theatre photography, interrogating the specific operation of photography and photographs in each. Following the introduction, Chapter 1 gives an overview of existing writing about theatre photography, from questions of archiving to reflection on 'performance documentation'. Chapter 2 concerns photographic studies of the corporeal mime of Etienne Decroux, examining how photographic stillness relates to mime practice. Chapter 3 concerns the theatre photographs of Josef Koudelka, and considers how this work documents disappearance. Chapter 4 focuses on Martine Franck, photographer at the Theatre du Soleil, and examines how theatre photographs correspond to the photographer's other work. The work of this same company is the subject of Chapter 5, where I consider Sophie Moscoso's use of photography as part of a working process, and the ways in which images affect stage practice. Chapter 6 concerns the work of New York performance photographer Dona Ann McAdams, and considers the how photographs perform. The conclusion considers the wider implications of this work, and signals future research that might draw on my findings.
- Theses