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Presenters of 2021

Our Speaker: Paula van Beek

Presentation title:

First person point of view: attention and distraction in a survey of live and live-streamed theatre audiences

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Bio:

Paula van Beek is an artist and arts educator based in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Within an expanded performance practice she investigates surveillance, point of view and plurality. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Film from Victoria University (Wellington, NZ) a Graduate Diploma in Animateuring (VCA, Melbourne, Australia) an MFA from RMIT School of Art ( Melbourne, Australia). She has published papers on surveillance and selfie culture and presented on the complexities of visibility. She has made live, mediated and live-streamed performance works in car parks, theatres, galleries, on river banks and online. She is currently teaching into the Stage and Screen programme at Te Auaha: NZ Institute of Creativity where her main research focus is expanded approaches to digital video and live-streaming technologies within live performance. www.paulavanbeek.com

Abstract:

The sudden pivot of live theatre to live-streaming due to the social distancing measures created by Covid-19 pandemic has generated an explosion of research in the field of mediated theatre. Mediated performance opens up possibilities for experimentation, but at the same time involves many challenges in order to keep live-ness and attention. Following a case study approach, this research investigates how live performance, digital video and screen-based strategies can be used to present works to remote audiences to enhance, not limit, the live-ness of the work to ensure audience engagement. 'Ubu Rex' by Alfred Jarry was adapted and performed for both live and remote audiences at Te Auaha: NZ Institute of Creativity in Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand. The work blended both stage and screen strategies creating two unique shows at once – one for the live audience and an enhanced version for the remote audience. First person cameras and screens were integrated on-stage while the live-streamed content was enhanced with pre-recorded scenes, digital overlays and characters’ POV. Valuable findings around digital theatre spectatorship were raised through surveys and interviews, where both audiences discussed their experience in receiving the work. This presentation will present the findings of the audience surveys and interviews unpacking themes of attention and distraction.

Our Speaker: Dominic Chamayou-Douglas

Presentation title:

"What do you miss most?” - An interactive theatre performance using Twine

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Bio:

Dominic Chamayou-Douglas is a writer, theatre producer and researcher who is currently studying for a Masters by Research in Theatre at York University where he is developing a play that explores connections between Artificial Intelligence, multiple-narratives and playwrighting. His work has been performed in the UK and in France and he is co-founder of the Paris Fringe festival.

Abstract:

When we talk of theatre, we think first of a physical phenomena: a building, a stage, a gathering of people, a communal event. All elements that are not currently available to us. We can record and broadcast a performance if we gather performers and are able to define a physical theatrical space where the piece can be performed but what if even this option is unavailable to us? What tools are available that allow us to create the shared experience of live-action performance without relying on anyone, performers or audience, sharing the same physical space? As part of my research, I have struggled with this question in seeking a form to present my work as a playwright. In abandoning the idea that my play will be performed before a physical audience I have considered approaches that I would have previously ignored. Twine is a tool to create interactive fiction and often employed in video game design. I am using it to create an interactive, mini performance piece to explore the theme of what we miss when theatres are closed in order to provoke discussion on how theatre can be re-imagined for the online world.

Our Speaker: Sarah Lahm

Presentation title:

Women on the Edge: Feminism and Selfhood in Mystery Television

Bio:

Sarah is in her first year as a PhD researcher at the TFTI department. She got her BA and MA degrees in American Studies, and her interest in feminism’s manifestations in US American culture continues to shape her research, which aims to contribute to feminist television criticism with the help of feminist theories from bell hooks to Sarah Banet-Weiser. She seeks to explore and explain how different strands of feminism are worked through on TV right now.

Abstract:

During a resurgence of feminist activism and a continuous popularity of feminism as a commodity and identity marker, one can observe a substantial number of conflicting ideas of what feminism is or ought to be these days. Likewise, television has been undergoing many rapid changes, but from the BBC to Netflix, the medium continues to provide its viewers with serial narratives that capture the zeitgeist of the current moment. Therefore, this thesis aims to illuminate which iterations of feminism are shaping the representation of women and their experiences on television. Intrigued by women who set out to unravel a mystery and end up unravelling multiple selves in the process, this thesis will explore contemporary mystery television’s entanglement with feminism. To trace the connection between conflicting feminisms and conflicting selves, this thesis will bring together feminist television criticism and theories on the most recent turns feminism has taken to explain tensions between victimisation and accountability, individualism and collectivism, and self and Other.

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Our Speaker: David Libeau

Presentation title:

Real-time audio description for live streamed games: an early Minecraft prototype.

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Bio:

After a bachelor in multimedia and web development in France, David Libeau moved to Montreal (Canada) for postgraduate studies in art and game design, and then to Skövde (Sweden) for a MSc in game research. He is now a PhD student at the University of York in web, media and gaming accessibility.

Abstract:

Accessibility is a human right. Although, some of us are excluded by new technologies that do not include accessibility features. In films or television, audio description provides access to blind and partially sighted people by adding a verbal commentary providing visual information as an extra audio track. Gaming live streaming is an increasingly popular entertainment media that gather millions of spectators every day. Audio description is almost never present for this media which may exclude visually impaired people. My PhD aims to tackle this issue. Generating audio description in real-time from game data has been proposed as a potential solution. Exporting data out of a game could be used to know what is happening is the game and transform this knowledge in description that would be outputted as audio thanks to a text-to-speech software. In this talk, I will present an early prototype for the game Minecraft (Mojang) as well as share the key challenges of my PhD.

Our Speaker: SiQi Liu

Presentation title:

Sports Commentary on Football Clubs’ Live-stream Channels: A case study of Liverpool vs Chelsea (4th March, 2021)

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Bio:

Siqi Liu is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media at the University of York. His research interests focus on digital media and digital culture, especially sports communication in the era of digital media. His research thesis is titled “Sports Commentary on Digital Media: Analyzing Sports Commentaries on Live Streaming Platforms, Live-Text Websites, and Artificial Intelligence”.

Our Speaker: Siqi Liu

Presentation title:
Sports Commentary on Football Clubs’ Live-stream Channels: A case study of Liverpool vs Chelsea (4th March, 2021)

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Bio:

Siqi Liu is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media at the University of York. His research interests focus on digital media and digital culture, especially sports communication in the era of digital media. His research thesis is titled “Sports Commentary on Digital Media: Analyzing Sports Commentaries on Live Streaming Platforms, Live-Text Websites, and Artificial Intelligence”.

Abstract:

My presentation explores the features of sports commentary on live streaming channels. It is the first study in my research thesis on the features of sports commentary in the digital media era. In this presentation, I will discuss the commentaries of the Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea football clubs which took place on 4th March 2021 as broadcast on their live streaming channels. In this case study, I collected approximately 520 mins of commentary data which I then analysed through thematic analysis. Going forward, as comparative case studies, I will also be analysing the commentaries of other Premier League matches, including between Manchester United and Manchester City, and between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. The significance of these case studies is not only in the exploration of the features and functions of sports commentaries on live streaming channels, but more importantly in the discussion of sports communication and digital culture, as well as the observation of the integration of media and intermediary communication into the daily life of sports organizations.

Our Speaker: Tala Linjawi

Presentation title:
Storytelling and Cultural Identity in Arab Animation

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Bio:

Tala Linjawi is a Saudi PhD student currently undertaking the Theater, Film, Television and Interactive Media by Creative Practice programme at the University of York. Her research intersts lie in the changing media landscapes of the Arab world, specifically in animation, cinema and grassroots content creation and digital media.

Abstract:

Animation globally has proven to be a driving medium for art, storytelling and box office returns. This proposal aims to provide insight into the diverse animation industries and practices of the Arab world. It will analyse Arab animated film, TV and online content from a select number of Arab countries in an attempt to identify their production practices, cultural identifiers and national and transnational distribution methods. It also aims to trace the historical development of Arab Animation industries from the 1930s to the modern day, with regards to the industries' relationship to changing religious censorship regulations, social revolution and economic growth. Finally, it aims to provide an answer to the question "what, if anything, makes Arab Animation 'Arab'? With the everchanging landscape of the medium and increased globalisation, what do aspiring Arab animators strive to achieve in terms of their films, and how will they incorporate the traditions of past Arab Animation in future productions?

Our Speakers: Jemma Llewellyn /
Ben Finley / Reza Yazdanpanah

Presentation title:

Arts Based Community Making During a Global Pandemic - Improvisation Across the Lifespan

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Bio:

Jemma Llewellyn is an applied theatre practitioner, from Wales, with extensive experience of organizing and creating theatre for/ with/ by children and young people. Her PhD research explores the intersections of performance, activism, social media, and adult-centrism.

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Bio:

Ben Finley is a performer-composer specializing in acoustic bass and electric bass (in multiple tunings and with effects). His PhD research is in composing-improvising creative ensemble music and studying arts and sustainability.

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Bio:

Reza Yazdanpanah is an Iranian musician who is an improviser, performer, and composer. His research interest is creating musical improvisation games for children as social practices in order to equip them for their future lives.

Abstract:

Improvisation Across the Lifespan is a series of intergenerational, interdisciplinary arts-based workshops, co-created and facilitated by three postgraduate students in the emergent field of Critical Studies in Improvisation (CSI). In short, CSI promotes “... acts of improvisation and accompaniment [to] fuel the creation of new social relations and new social realities” (Tomlinson and Lipsitz 14). The Improvisation Across the Lifespan project accompanies community event organizer Hillside Festival, in their quest to respond to the gap in intergenerational arts programming, and three key reports on mental health and wellbeing released in 2020. One Youth Canada, Children First Canada, and UNICEF Canada reports demonstrate inclusion and accessibility issues pre-pandemic, highlighting systemic issues concerning how adults advocate on behalf of children and youth. In response we formulated the following questions: What kind of intergenerational arts-based community space might interdisciplinary postgraduate students co-create to open spheres of accompaniment, to cope with the pandemic and nourish future intergenerational allyship imaginings? Join us as we navigate a path through the sonic reflections of our inquiry into adult allyship, the role of improvisation pedagogy (social and creative) in actively amplifying youth voices, and co-existing in a creative digital space to support disconnected families (local and internationally).

Our Speaker: Daniel Lock

Presentation title:

Digitising Theatre: A Foundation Framework Design Guide for Translating Theatre Theory into VR

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Bio:

Daniel’s research is focused on creative technologies, he is currently investigating how VR developers may make use of Theatre Theory to enhance storytelling, virtual environments and player experience.

Abstract:

Performers are engaging in alternative ways of sharing creative work to wider audiences. The Covid-19 pandemic has made this more pressing as creative spaces have been forced to close. Theatre makers have tuned to recent advancements in Virtual Reality (VR) to provide their audience with an immersive alternative Theatre experience, however the guidance on adapting Theatre performances into VR is limited. This interdisciplinary project will experiment with multiple VR translation approaches through the analysis of theory and practitioner philosophy to develop a foundation framework for supporting the development of future VR Theatre Productions.

Our Speaker: Tracy Mathewson

Presentation title:

Truth Justice, and her Feminine Wiles: The Effect of Female Agency on Justice in American Conspiracy Film

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Bio:

Tracy Mathewson is an award-winning writer/director; her PhD in Film by Creative Practice, “Post-Truth Justice, and the Feminine Way” is presently under consideration with the University of York. Her most recent short film, “California”, was shot during lockdown last year and is currently making its rounds on the film festival circuit. An interview with Tracy on this process will be published as “The Emotional Floorplan: Shooting Memory during the Coronavirus Pandemic” in the upcoming edition of the journal Short Film Studies.

Abstract:

When we think of the heroes in conspiracy films, perhaps we imagine the journalists of All the President’s Men and The Parallax View, or the lawyers in JFK and Enemy of the State... But do we imagine mothers? Wives? Do we see women as viable conspiracy heroes? This video essay contextualises female-led conspiracy films against the Women’s Liberation movement to ascertain the effect of female agency on representations of justice in American conspiracy film. At the root of these conspiracy stories is the notion of control, where the heroine’s ability to affect justice depends on her ability to control herself, and is so augmented as women’s agency expands on and off-screen. Unlike the rest of the (white, male-dominated) genre, female-led conspiracy films retain their political force through a blending of the personal and the political, making a strong case for contemporary conspiracy narratives that embrace change and opportunity by including and elevating not just more women protagonists, but protagonists with non-traditional sexualities and/or gender identities as well as those from underrepresented racial and/or class backgrounds, in order for the genre to regain its political force.

Our Speaker: Mary Stewart-David

Presentation title:

R.U.R - Creating the Virtual Musical

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Bio:

I am a dramatist and lyricist in Musical Theatre with a background in West End Theatre Production, currently researching a PhD in writing the Immersive Musical. With assistance from DC Labs I have been exploring methods of digital theatre production, organising with fellow PGRs a Hackathon to problem-solve significant technical and artistic challenges of staging in VR. As a dramatist and screenwriter my work has been published, produced and performed around the world, notably in the West End, New York, LA and (in translation) Japan.

Abstract:

Narrative Challenges in Writing the Virtual Musical: In planning to adapt Karel Čapek’s play R.U.R in its centenary year as a virtual musical, to be performed in an easily-accessible web based VR platform, I am addressing with my practice-based research, issues of liveness, interactivity and embodiment in an immersive three dimensional virtual environment. I hope to present a practical demonstration of how scenes from a traditionally scripted musical can be written and performed for VR and how this may lead to further practical exploration of narrative design methods for Musical Theatre, informed by related fields of interactive and immersive storytelling including Narrative Game Design, Immersive Theatre, Larping (Live Action Role Play), Escape Room and Theme Park technology and 360 degree interactive filmmaking. Creating a musical is a collaborative enterprise involving book-writer, lyricist, composer, director, producer, choreographer, set, lighting and sound designer and many others. These skills are no less applicable in VR than they are in physical theatre. I hope with my practical research to bring together a team of Virtual Musical Theatre makers to explore this new and innovative platform, aiming to stage as the first production, a full scale virtual musical version of Capek’s futuristic visionary piece, R.U.R.

Our Speaker: Jacob Mulgrew

Presentation title:
"And in This Corner...": A Review of the Unwavering Character Types in the Sports Feature Film

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Bio:

Jacob Mulgrew is a writer-director investigating the creative practice behind the sports-action sequence in film and TV - particularly focusing on action as a vehicle for story and character development. Jacob has a working class background and was a young carer to two disabled parents. His focus, therefore, often shifts to the representation of working class and disabled participants in screen stories and behind the camera.

 

https://jacobmulgrew.com/

Abstract:

The sports film genre has a very rigid and unwavering set of character types. In order to further develop creative practice in the arena of the sports film, it is crucial to fully understand these character types and their functions. This presentation examines a sample of sports films, from 1911’s Harry the Footballer through to the modern day, discussing the sports hero and the supporting cast of characters in relation to their roots in mythology – with specific reference to the cast of characters in the Rocky series of films.

 

In addition, we will assess the genre’s penchant for positioning the straight, white, able-bodied sport hero as an ‘underdog’ or ‘outsider’. In doing so, I argue that there is a wealth of opportunity for filmmakers to position disabled athletes at the heart of their sporting narratives as mythic heroes and also introduce themes for my ongoing research into the genre.

Our Speaker: Kulnaree Sueroj

Presentation title:
How to tackle the challenges of Audio Description for television in Thailand.

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Bio:

I am a Thai lecturer and researcher who interested in the Development Communication, especially an Audio Description. My scope of AD in Thailand relates to AD script writing, AD consultation, AD training, and research on AD users. Most of my studies are qualitative research. As a PhD student at university of York, I run a project about 'Audio Describing gestures and facial expressions in Thai serials.

Abstract:

From 2013 to 2020, audio description (AD), which is a service to support people with sight loss to access visual information, has been available in Thailand on various platforms, such as televisions, films, plays and museums. AD in television is more advanced than any other medium, and there was an official policy that mandated television broadcasters to provide AD. Because television was a domestic media that provided free content to the Thais. Although the Thai policy on audio description has been enforced, in practice the proportion of audio description in Thailand has not increased significantly. Some challenges of Thai audio description for television are similar to those in other countries, and some are specific to social contexts. The results of online interviews with policymakers and experts revealed that the impact of digital disruption is the most significant challenge for Thai audio description for television. People with vision loss currently prefer to consume over-the-top content, which is a streaming media service provided directly to audiences over the Internet, especially on mobile devices. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) should adjust AD legislation to accommodate changing media consumer behaviour, and the NBTC and the AD network should work more closely together.

Our Speaker: Kate Valentine

Presentation title:
A Word in Your Ear: Reimagining Community Drama as Site-Specific Audio Drama

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Bio:

Kate is doing her PhD by Creative Practice in Directing at the University of York and her research combines audio production with community drama along the Great North Road. She is a director of theatre and audio drama. Her experience includes productions at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, National Theatre, Park Theatre, and various fringe productions in London, Brighton and Edinburgh Festivals. Kate trained as a radio drama producer with the BBC and made programmes for Radio 4, Radio 3 and the World Service. She is the founder and director of Digital Drama (www.digitaldrama.org), working with theatres, arts organisations, museums and community groups to connect people through creative projects.

Abstract:

Community drama has evolved through sharing stories that often combine heritage, site-specific location and immersive audience experience; a balance between ‘the host and the ghost’, a negotiation between the contemporary and the historical in which ‘no single story is being told’ (Pearson, Shanks 2001). Reflecting on this mix, this paper explores the notion that the process of creating community drama within and about a building of heritage value becomes a theatrical event, both engaging the audience in the defined performance space and in its stories. But what if live performance is recorded and accessed by the audience as a site-specific audio download at a time of their choosing - is it still a theatrical event? How does the director capture the energy and collective creativity of the community drama whilst working in a different medium? This challenge is the methodology of my PhD research by Creative Practice entitled “Dual Carriageway”; a site-specific audio heritage project that connects communities along the Great North Road through a mix of live performance, digital storytelling and interactivity.

Our Speaker: Xiaojie Xie

Presentation title:

Sonic Interaction in Immersive Theatre Performance

Bio:

Xiaojie Xie is a PhD candidate in the Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media. She was studying Digital Media Technology in China, and now she is working on Sound Design and Interactive Media. Her research is focusing on sonic interaction in an immersive theatre environment, aiming to exploring a new approach to enhance engagement of audiences in theatre performance.

Abstract:

Immersive theatre is a type of performance that has strong immersion and interactivity. It breaks the fourth wall between audiences and actors, allowing audiences to stand beside actors and to watch the performance in a short distance. The interactivity in immersive theatre is similar to video games. The director of immersive theatre Sleep No More described his production as a “game-changing” performance. After comparing immersive theatre and video games, the level of physical immersion of immersive theatre is higher than video games, but the interactivity is less than video games, especially on sound design. Therefore, using game technology to design sound may be an approach to increase interactivity and immersion of immersive theatre. Compared with other technology, gesture recognition technology is suitable for theatre performance. After considering actors’ and audiences’ movement in the whole building, vision-based gesture recognition technology might be a good choice for it, for example, Kinect device. Exploring vision-based gesture recognition technology on sound design for immersive will be one of key points of this research.

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Our Speaker: Irene Zarza Rubio

Presentation title:
'I Still Believe in Heroes': Creating a Contemporary Mythology in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Bio:

Irene Zarza Rubio is a PhD student at the Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media. She studied a bachelor's degree in English Studies at the University of Valencia, Spain, and an MLitt in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture at the University of St Andrews. Her research focuses on contemporary mythologies and transmedia storytelling, aiming to explore the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a contemporary universal mythology developed across media.

Abstract:

From comic books to television, film and even podcasts, superhero stories seem to thrive among audiences across the globe. Since 2008, Marvel Studios have provided audiences a total of 23 films, several TV shows and tie-in comic books set in the same fictional universe. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a franchise formed by franchises, has been praised by international audiences and critics for its interconnected, long-form transmedia stories where events expand across franchises and across media. Marvel Studios has accomplished what no other film studio had ever done before: turning superhero stories into an interconnected transmedial experience. Thus, it is not surprising to find a fair amount of academic works already analysing this phenomenon and how superheroes and the MCU represent American values and an American mythology. My research aims to examine how some of these values can not only be considered American but also universal and that it is this universality of themes along with long-form storytelling what makes the Marvel Cinematic Universe a contemporary universal mythology capable of reaching wide, international audiences. Moreover, this PhD will analyse the different ways in which the MCU both features elements from previous mythologies and creates its own.