Space and spontaneity: an interdisciplinary understanding of improvised performance, site and process

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Gwilym Lawrence


This practice as research (PaR) thesis explores improvisation within site-specific theatre practice. Drawing on theories from within human geography, as well as both theory and practice from theatre and performance, the thesis argues that improvisation is a relational, contingent and emplaced practice – one that continuously and inevitably draws upon its immediate surroundings, as well as on the previous lived experiences of the improviser. Using an original improvised walking performance around the Peak District village of Hope, UK, as the case study, the thesis explores the ways in which improvised performance can intersect with notions of place, landscape, memory, personal biography and community – as well as how these things might intersect with one another. Further, by examining the use of improvisation as a means of engaging an audience and drawing them into a process of collaborative recollection, the thesis ultimately shows that improvised performance is an effective technique for inviting people to encounter their immediate environments afresh, bringing new perspectives to seemingly familiar places. The thesis aims to be of interest to theatremakers, theatre and performance scholars, and human and cultural geographers – particularly those working in more-than-representational theories.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2019