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What is PARIP?
Who is PARIP?
How long will the project be active?
What is practice as research?
What is documentation?
What is the difference between ‘mediated’ and ‘mediatized’?
Why does PARIP focus on academy-based practice as research?
Why does PARIP focus on advanced research, as opposed to postgraduate research?
What is PARIP’s standing in relation to the AHRB and RAE?
What is PARIP’s specific remit?
What is PARIP’s budget?


PARIP Practice as Research in Performance is a five-year project led by Professor Baz Kershaw and the Department of Drama: Theatre, Film, Television at the University of Bristol. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board.

PARIP's objectives are to investigate creative-academic issues raised by practice as research, where performance is understood as performance media: theatre, dance, film, video and television. As a result of PARIP's investigations and in collaboration with colleagues, educational institutions and professional bodies throughout the UK and Europe PARIP aims to develop national frameworks for the encouragement of the highest standards in representing practical-creative research within academic contexts.


Baz Kershaw, Project Director

Angela Piccini, Postdoctoral Research Associate (F/T)

Caroline Rye, Postdoctoral Research Associate (P/T)

The PARIP Management Group comprises Baz Kershaw, Angela Piccini, Caroline Rye, Mark Sinfield and Janet Thumim (Head of Department).

The PARIP Advisory Group comprises the Management Group plus John Adams and Martin White of University of Bristol and Christopher Bannerman (rescen, University of Middlesex), John Ellis (Media Arts Centre, UL Royal Holloway), Carol Lorac (Media Arts Centre, UL Royal Holloway), Robin Nelson (Department of Contemporary Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University), Barry Smith (Department of Visual and Performing Arts, The Nottingham Trent University), and Phillip Zarrilli (Department of Drama, The University Of Exeter).


The project will span five years, between November 2000 and August 2005.


Practice as research (PAR) and practice-based research (PBR) and 'research through practice', 'research by practice', 'performance as research' are contested terms that resist close definition. Practice as research and practice-based research are frequently used interchangeably to suggest a relationship of research between theory and practice.

Broadly speaking, practice as research is an attempt to see and understand performance media practices and processes as arenas in which knowledges might be opened. The institutional acceptance of practice as research in the higher education sector acknowledges fundamental epistemological issues that can only be addressed in and through theatre, dance, film, TV and video practices.

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Documentation is a term that requires unpacking. Baz Kershaw has sought to differentiate documentation in terms of 'integral' and 'external' documentation.

Integral documentation is taken to be the mass of heterogeneous trace materials that the practice process creates. These materials may be of similar kind/order in both live and mediatized performance practices: eg script drafts, notes, call sheets, camera reports, continuity notes, costume designs, laboratory reports, treatments, set designs, choreographic notation, sound designs, etc.

External documentation perhaps has greater resonance in live performance practices. While screen media practices produce some form of object outcome(s) or artefact(s) that can be revisited (albeit in different ways and not necessarily in perpetuity), live performance by definition is ephemeral. 'The' performance encounter exists through specific temporal-spatial contexts with no possibility of object repetition.

External documentation (whether photography-, audio-, video-, text-based, etc.) therefore suggests the documenting of performance encounters in such a way as to reference the possible contents of the performance as research. This is problematic in that such external documentation (particularly video-based documentation) frequently does not acknowledge the tendency for such documents to be seen as  'standing in' for the practice itself.

PARIP has produced its own documents that explore best practices for such external documentation of live performance.

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PARIP acknowledges that all 'translations' of practice are mediated, in that to mediate is to act as a medium that transfers something from one place to another, to be between two stages, ideas, times or things.

PARIP is concerned with practice as research in both live and mediatized areas of activity. Here mediatized speaks to that which pertains to 'media', the standard dictionary definition of which refers to various means of mass communication: including television, radio, magazines and newspapers, together with the people involved in their production.

However, the word 'mediatize' was introduced popularly in Jean Baudrillard's 'For a critique of the political economy of the sign', from Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings (Mark Poster, ed., 1990, Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 57-97); is used by Philip Auslander in Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (1999,  London: Routledge); and is discussed in further detail in Caroline Rye's Living Cameras: A Study of Live Bodies and Mediatized Images in Multi-Media Performance and Installation Art Practice (2000, Unpublished PhD thesis, Edinburgh: Napier University). Mediatize thus extends beyond the media 'industry' cited above to reference 'the image-orientated technological machinery by which "the media" originates its mass communication, specifically video, film and photography' (Rye 2000: 11).

Thus 'mediatize' suggests the recording of images in association with camera technologies, by which they enter into economies of exchange (see particularly Peggy Phelan, 1993, Unmarked: the Politics of Performance, London: Routledge). While live performance may mobilize that which is mediatized (the use of various camera images in the live event), live performance may perhaps be understood as encounters that take place in temporal and spatial relationships with an audience, whereby the performance is not given meaning specifically through the production of image-orientated artefacts.

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PARIP arose from a specific history of debates surrounding the institutional inclusion of practice AS research within academic research agendas. The context is historically one of funding and its links to assessment of the tertiary education sector. There is also the acknowledgement that certain epistemological issues can only be addressed in and through practice, rather than through traditional critical writing based research.

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PARIP's research remit, as set out in its application to the AHRB (, is to detail the full range and major types of approach to practice as research in UK Higher Education Institutions, in the context of advanced research and the Research Assessment Exercise ( PALATINE ( ), the UK Council for Graduate Education ( and the subject-orientated professional bodies covering higher education: SCUDD Standing Conference on University Drama Departments (, SCODHE Standing Conference on Dance in Higher Education and AMPE Association of Media Practice Educators are more specifically concerned with postgraduate and learning and teaching issues.


PARIP is a five-year research project, funded by the AHRB. It does not function as an evaluation or assessment panel. Furthermore, it does not engage in project-funding activities.

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PARIP's successful AHRB application outlined the following context for the research, methods of project activity and costs / organization (edited for length):


The pursuit of practice as research has become increasingly important during the past ten years to the research cultures of the performing arts and related disciplines involving performance media as the contribution of the arts and cultural industries to national health and prosperity has climbed up the political agenda. A growing numbers of performing arts/media departments in HE are now offering higher degrees which place practice at the heart of their research programmes. The main professional association representing drama, theatre and performance in HE, SCUDD, in 1994 established a working party to draw up guidelines on practice as research, and in the 1996 RAE the Drama, Dance and Performing Arts panel (UoA66) for the first time included it as an area of research fully equivalent to traditional approaches. The debates around the nature of that 'equivalence' subsequently have grown in intensity.

The Department of Drama at the University of Bristol is exceptionally well placed to undertake the first major research project to focus on practice as research. Both departmental professors have extensive and complementary experience of successful practice as research projects, and both have chaired the SCUDD working parties. Baz Kershaw's creative practice has included: the initiation of a new genre reminiscence theatre in the 1970s, which has since been taken up internationally; creative documentation projects with Welfare State International in the 1980s/90s; performative investigations of contesting histories a heritage sites in the 1990s. Martin White is a leading figure in practical research methodologies, particularly for investigating Renaissance theatre history; at Bristol he has built the only full scale reconstruction of a Jacobean indoor playhouse; the international reach of his work has been extended through his association with London's Globe Theatre.

These contrasting approaches to practice as research are augmented by the research of Bristol's academic staff, with work spanning drama, theatre, film, video and television. A recent full upgrading of the department's television systems to digital format, and a major refurbishment of its physical facilities provide an excellent environment for this project, but particularly for the work of PARIP's practical project strand. Well established links with the university's Department of Computer Science and the Institute of Learning and Research Technology will ensure the highest standards in the digital aspects of the project.

An agreement in principle has been reached with Advisory Group member, Christopher Bannerman, Head of rescen (Centre for Research into the Creative and Performing Arts) at Middlesex University, for a collaboration which will provide the dance elements of this project.


The proposal is for a five-year departmental project led by Baz Kershaw and Janet Thumim (departmental Head), with one FT and one PT Research Associates, and occasional fee-paid technical/computing support staff. The group, with support from departmental academic, production, technical, administrative and secretarial staff, will coordinate the development and mutual reinforcement of the three strands of project activity. An inter-institutional steering group of senior researchers, chosen for their experience in contrasting types of practice as research, advises the department on the progress of the project as a whole.

PARIP's field research will produce a complete survey of practice as research in UK HEIs. This will lead to a national symposium on the findings aimed to refine and enhance their organization/presentation for use by the research communities (completed November 2001); detailed multi-media case studies of selected 'representative' practices from a range of HEIs, aimed to investigate the most effective approaches to documentation/dissemination; a website (initial stages on-line in November 2001) will broadcast the database and case studies, promoting debate in preparation for a national conference on the future of practice as research (to take place 11-14 September 2003); a survey of selected European HEIs will extend the database and case studies, and lead to a European/international conference on cross-cultural approached to practice as research.

PARIP's critical research will produce working papers on the key issues in performance arts and media relevant to practice as research [link to historiography paper and Incorporating paper]. This will be developed to initiate debate about the various theoretical frameworks that might best inform practice and analysis in the major types of practice as research project, through a seminar series with leading practitioners in the field. Three to four regionally based inter-institutional working groups will develop the theoretical frameworks in the light of selected practices in their areas, cross-referenced with the case studies and draw up draft criteria relevant to different types of approach; a continuous on-line symposium will map out the relationships between theories and criteria to form the first comprehensive account of the interaction of scholarship and creative achievement in practice as research (

PARIP's practical research is a series of creative projects based mainly in Bristol in key areas of concern to practice as research, which will provide a platform for investigation into advanced uses of new digital technologies for the documentation and dissemination of processes and outcomes. The projects will focus on fields of concern already well developed by practitioner-researchers, by engaging with key issues of historiography. Likely projects include: historical theatre reconstruction, multi-media performance, cross-cultural dance, community-based documentary video. Initially this research will focus on innovative technical applications of video-based digital recording for simultaneous multi-viewpoint documentation. Bristol already has much of the equipment needed for such a system. The aim will be to create a digital documentation system for PARIP that will a)produce high quality multi-media, multi-stream material and b) be available for use as a high-quality 'add-on' in HEIs. Hence the initial development of this system will take place in Bristol, but with the intention that as the project develops it will be available to other HEIs.


Project costs derive primarily from the salaries for the Research Associates, though the documentation system produces a significant part of the budget. The full-time RA will be responsible for the overall coordination of all aspects of the project. It is envisioned that most of her time will be spent working to conduct the field research and service the seminars, conferences and on-line information sources with high-quality materials. Hence, in Y1 most of her work will be office-based, but as the project develops she will be involved in travel to coordinate work between HEIs. The half-time RA will be responsible primarily for the coordination of the practical research, in particular the development of the technical resource and its uses. Hence, in Y1 and 2 the majority of her work will be spent on technical coordination between departmental research and production staff. Later in the project she will be involved in coordinating and servicing the use of the system in other HEIs. She will also be responsible for coordinating the work of fee-paid technical and computing staff bought into the project.

The University of Bristol will make substantial contributions to the project, and this is reflected in the reduced amount of grant requested in the bid (compared with first submission). The Department of Drama will provide all secretarial support needed for PARIP's activities, and much of the costs of technical production staff for the practical research. The Department of Computer Science and Institute for Learning and Research Technology will provide the majority of computing expertise, as the nature of the project coincides with their developing research interests. Copyright clearances for most materials produced by the project will be an integral part of the terms of collaboration, though the budget allows for some small copyright costs on materials that may be imported. HEI departments participating in working groups, seminars, case studies, etc. will contribute to the costs of those elements.



Technical Costs


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