Event: SPA Seminar and Lectures - Professor David Wiles
Date: 7-9-10 December 2021
Time: see Programme
Venue: see details below
The Department of Theatre Studies at the School of Performing Arts has the pleasure to announce the visit of Professor David Wiles who will conduct a SPA Research seminar and deliver two lectures between 7 and 10 December 2021.
Professor Wiles is Emeritus Professor of Drama at the University of Exeter and a member of Wolfson College Oxford. His major areas of historical interest are Greek and Elizabethan theatre, and key themes in his work are festival, mask, and space. His Theatre and Citizenship (2011) covered a broad historical span with a focus upon the French Enlightenment, and he is now working on the relationship of theatre to democracy. His Theatre & Time (2014) was a project that emerged as a complement to his Short History of Western Performance Space (2003). With Christine Dymkowski, he edited the Cambridge Companion to Theatre History (2013). His most recent book The Players’ Advice to Hamlet examines the rhetorical tradition which for centuries defined the work of actors. His translation of Aristophanes’ Wealth was performed professionally in London in the summer of 2020. He spent much of his career in the Department of Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway University of London, before moving to Exeter University in 2013, and he now lives in Oxford.
Tuesday, 7 December from 15:00 to 17:00
SPA Research Seminar: Democracy and Theatricality in the English and French Revolutions
Venue: Campus Hub CH418
The research seminar relates to Prof. Wiles’ current work in progress. The English (and Scottish) revolution of the 1640s was driven by puritanism which, as in the case of US independence, fostered the ideal that each individual should live according to their conscience, and that all forms of hierarchy are unacceptable. Protestant political orators had to believe or maintain that they spoke as the spirit led them - a legacy that fed into US versions of Stanislavsky. Most of the French revolutionaries were educated in Catholic schools, and therefore had a very different take on the ethics of giving a planned and rehearsed political speech and mounting a political show. For them theatricality was not inherently a bad thing. The modern Academy tends to pride itself on its secular Enlightenment values, and for this reason the importance of religious traditions is often underplayed.
Thursday, 9 December from 14:00 to 16:00
Title: Language, Gesture, and the Mind-Body Problem
The relationship between mind and body is one of the oldest and most inescapable philosophical problems. In premodern times the concept of mind was bound up with that of the ‘soul’ but today we have abandoned the ‘soul’ and preoccupied ourselves with the 'self'. Prof. Wiles will explore this problem in relation to the phenomenon of gesture, the process by which all we human beings create shapes and patterns with our hands at the same time as we create words in what we normally take to be our heads. Different ways in which philosophy formulates the mind/body relationship correlate with different ways in which techniques of acting have channelled and controlled this biological impulse.
Friday, 10 December from 12:00 to 14:00
Title: Space and Place in Greek Tragedy
In this lecture Prof. Wiles looks back and considers what has and has not stood the test of time in his book Tragedy in Athens: Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning published in 1997. In recent years there has been a broad academic shift from structuralism back to phenomenology, which entails thinking less about geometrical space and more about the particularity of place. This change is relevant to the current environmental crisis, a crisis which stems in large part from a tendency pushed on by capitalism to abstract space from the lived experience of place. Prof. Wiles began to formulate this different perspective in his contribution to the Bloomsbury Cultural History of Theatre in Antiquity (2017).