Theatricality and Interrelations Between Art, Film and Theatre

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Lancaster Inst for the Contemporary Arts


The academic study of the interrelated arts - specifically those of Art, Film and Theatre - has barely emerged, even as these domains have interacted in many ways over the past 120 years. In the realm of practice, more recently there has been an increased blurring of the boundaries between these arts, as artists pursue filmmaking careers, films are exhibited in gallery spaces, and theatre productions are screened in cinema theatres. In short, while the arts themselves have converged, academic research in these domains remains stubbornly discipline-specific: Art historians rarely discuss their research with Film scholars, while, in turn, neither of these sets of scholars tends to interact to any great degree with academics in Theatre Studies. The proposed network thus aims to explore and determine the extent of the academic divisions between these disciplines.

Furthermore, the network also aims to promote a discussion on policy debates relating to the funding of arts research, arts practice, and research paradigms in the arts more generally. The aim of this aspect of the project is to determine the extent to which there is cross-funding between different fields - that is, to determine the extent to which funding can be sought for projects that cross the disciplinary boundaries between Art, Film and Theatre.

Finally, the project also aims to alert the wider public to such issues. By holding two public seminar / roundtable discussion, and by publishing edited videos of these events online, it is expected that some public visibility will be given to these issues; that is, the aims and impact of the project extends well beyond the boundaries of academia.

The primary research purpose of the project is to initiate a multidisciplinary discussion on interrelations between the fields of Art, Film and Theatre. The network aims to address what it feels is the lack of multidisciplinary research across these areas by foregrounding a theoretical framework that will enable these varied arts to be researched and investigated in ways that attempt to break down the barriers between them. The term around which this multidisciplinary inquiry will focus is theatricality. Theatricality is a term that has been used theoretically across each of the disciplines of Art, Film and Theatre, and thus emerges as a term by means of which these fields can be brought into conversation with one another.

The proposed network therefore serves to stimulate new debates and advance understanding of the interrelations between the fields of Art, Film and Theatre. In addition to opening out, and to some degree, founding, a serious discussion on the interrelations between Art-Film-Theatre, the network has the potential to radically alter the terrain on which the 'arts' are considered in three ways: (a) in terms of academic research; (b) in terms of public perceptions of the arts; and (c) in terms of arts policies and funding. With such aims in view, the network would engage with arts practitioners and policy bodies (eg. Arts Council). Overall, the network seeks to influence policy debates, academic funding of arts research, research paradigms in the arts more generally, as well as public perceptions of the interrelations between the fields of Art-Film-Theatre.

The network's home is ideally situated at the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA) at Lancaster University. The three key subjects that are central to the proposed network - Art-Film-Theatre - are housed in LICA. The network will feature input from several scholars in LICA: Richard Rushton (PI; Film specialist), Prof Andrew Quick (Co-I; Theatre), Prof Sir Christopher Frayling (Film), Prof Beth Harland (Fine Art) and others. LICA was founded on a programme of exploring the relations between the arts in an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary way.

Planned Impact

Strategies of dissemination and public engagement are central to the network's aims and objectives. Indeed, they are the chief reasons why the network is structured around public events (at the Barbican in London and Dukes Theatre, Lancaster, as well as the symposium at Lancaster University). The impact aims of the network are especially focused on the Arts Council England. The network aims to establish a discussion on arts funding across the different fields of art, film and theatre. To this extent, some film funding agencies in England (the BFI Film Fund, Channel 4 Film) might also be brought into the discussion. The network will focus on funding at the regional level - in the North and North West of England - as well as on the national picture; hence the decision to hold a first public seminar in Lancaster, then another in London. Such is one of the key aims of the network: to establish a network by means of which discussions of interrelated art funding in the UK can be pursued.

The network's beneficiaries will involve the following targets:
(a) to raise public awareness on questions of the interrelations between the arts;
(b) to raise public awareness about the extent of collaboration between the fields of Art, Film and Theatre;
(c) to open up public discussion about how each of the arts perceives itself in relation to the other arts;
(d) to disseminate information on debates about theatricality, especially on how this term can be used in both positive and negative ways to characterise the relationships between Art, Film and Theatre

Finally, beneficiaries will be various fine artists and theatre practitioners who will benefit from discussion and reflection on the notion of theatricality and an increased awareness of the interrelations between the fields of Art, Film and Theatre.


10 25 50
Description International Symposium on Theatricality in the Arts, held at Lancaster University, 23-24 September 2017. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Symposium on Theatricality and the Arts featuring speakers from the US, Europe, Canada, Brazil, and the UK. Keynotes were Kati Röttger (University of Amsterdam), Lisa Åkervall (University of Gothenberg), Professor Tim Etchells (Lancaster University & Forced Entertainment), and Daniel Morgan (University of Chicago).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2017
Description Public workshop on Funding the Arts in the North of England held at the Dukes Theatre and Cinema, Lancaster, UK, on the 20th April 2017. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The project involved 7 invited speakers from the fields of arts funding, heritage funding, theatre practice, and film practice. Each speaker was asked to relate their experiences of how they managed to secure funding for their activities / productions / exhibitions. The speakers were: Deborah Best (Arts Council England), Alan Dix (Hull Truck Theatre), Helen Watson (Lakeland Arts), Andrew Quick (imitating the dog Theatre company and Lancaster University), Ivan Wadeson (Dukes Theatre), John Randall (film and Theatre Maker), Oliver Case (System Earth Cable Project). The speakers were introduced by Richard Rushton (Lancaster University, project PI) and the event was chaired by Charlie Gere (Lancaster University).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Roundtable event on Arts Funding at the ICA London, July 13, 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A series of talks and discussions on funding various arts activities, especially theatre, film and fine art. The event was held at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, on July 13, 2017. Speakers included Richard Russell (Arts Council England), Professor Sir Christopher Frayling (Lancaster University), filmmakers Christine Malloy and Joe Lawlor, Rachel Valentine Smith (Faction theatre co.) and Professor Andrew Quick (Lancaster University). The day was introduced by Richard Rushton (Lancaster University) and chaired by Professor Charlie Gere (Lancaster University).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017