Drama Production Philomela gulbenkian theatre

Centre for Performance, Technology and Aesthetics

The home for research projects, grant income and outputs

Student performing in a recording studio

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education

Steering Group Members

Professor Pavel Drábek

Dr Peter Elsdon

Dr Cat Fergusson-Baugh

Dr Mark Slater

Mr Gary Mitchell

Middleton Hall


The Centre for Performance, Technology and Aesthetics (PTA) was created following Hull City of Culture 2017 as the home for research projects, grant income and outputs within the School of the Arts that relate to:

Practice as Research (non-applied projects)

This includes all forms of research-driven arts outputs that deploy modes of critical enquiry that place arts practice at the centre of critical investigation.

Critical studies in Technology (both digital and conventional technologies)

Such studies of technological approaches can range from historical analyses of previous technologies and their effects on the development of particular disciplines and genres (including the work of individual or collective artists or movements) – to analyses of and/or the development by our own researchers of current, cutting-edge new technologies and their potential applications. Such studies might include either new or historical technologies in theatre, film or music production, game design & applications; digital, virtual and hybrid environments (and their social/cultural/economic uses).

The Processes of Arts Production

This work will deal with structures and processes surrounding, facilitating or otherwise interacting with the human or machine-led creation of art. Studies of creative processes can vary greatly, but these could include: issues of access and representation (including gender, class, race and diversity), economics, alternative procedures and models of production, as well as critical case studies of the processes used by individual creative artists in the development of their outputs (in both contemporary and historical contexts).



Prague Quadrennial 2019
The Art of Dancing
Weathered Estates
  • Hull UK City of Culture 2017

    Working with partners across the city, researchers from the School of the Arts played a pivotal role in shaping and delivering the programme for Hull’s 2017 year as UK City of Culture. The School created mutually beneficial relationships between regional arts organisations and the University, developed new networks of producers, and created a research agenda that impacted on the working processes of performers and companies involved. Ultimate benefits from this research included increased cultural engagement by people in the Humber region and nationally; innovative methods of engaging people in the Arts; and a blueprint for how a HEI can engage in planning and delivery of a major cultural event. 

  • Czech and Slovak Scenography for Shakespeare

    Led by Dr Christian Billing, the Czech and Slovak Scenography for Shakespeare project is an international, multi-institution research project that considers the central importance of Czech and Slovak stage design in Shakespeare studies – from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. Partners have included: the Ohio State University; Masaryk University; the Columbus Museum of Art; the Archives of the Czech National Theatre; the Theatre Research Institute (Bratislava) and the Arts and Theatre Institute (Prague). The project has so far included: three international conferences (in Columbus, Hull and Brno); a touring exhibition of original artworks; a completed PhD dissertation (on Slovak design for Shakespeare); new digital modelling of historic stage designs; and one collection of essays (published by Masaryk University Press). Further anticipated outputs include a book length study of the Shakespeare scenography of Josef Svoboda.

  • Nightports

    Nightports is a collaborative studio project led by Dr Mark Slater (University of Hull) and Dr Adam Martin (Leeds Conservatoire). As a practice-as-research project, Nightports explores the generative powers of self-imposed restriction (which has a deep history in composition and production). Each release focusses on either a featured musician or a specific place. Only sounds produced by the featured musician or those captured in the chosen place on one day can be used – nothing else. These sounds can then be transformed, distorted, translated, processed and reprocessed, stretched, cut, ordered and reordered without limitation. Working since 2010, Nightports has released a series of albums and EPs independently and on The Leaf Label, working with collaborators such as pianist Matthew Bourne and drummer Max Hallett (aka Betamax). Through international broadcasts and live performances, the project has reached a wide global audience.

  • Prague Quadrennial

    The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ) is the world's largest exhibition of scenography and performance design. Since its founding in 1967, it has taken place every four years over an 11-day festival in Prague as the world-leading forum for theatre and performance professionals and the wider interested public. Starting with the 2017 conference on the 50th anniversary, several staff and students in SotA have been actively involved. Prof. Pavel Drábek has been member of the International Team as co-curator of PQ Talks (see also article in Theatre and Performance Design journal), one of the eight main programmes of PQ2019, and member of the jury of PQ Best Publication Award. Dr Cat Fergusson Baugh and Dr Amy Skinner have organised and moderated specialist panels as part of PQ Talks 2019, on New Media and on Scenography of Sound (Fergusson Baugh), and on Theatre and Photography (Skinner). With the support of the School and the Faculty, PG students on the MA Theatre Making were able to participate as part of their Research Project work. This in turn reflected in the curricular work at postgraduate as well as undergraduate levels.

    With numerous other Hull alumni in attendance, as visitors as well as contributing artists and presenters, among them world-leading scholars Dr Rachel Hann or Prof. Christopher Baugh, and book illustrator and visual artist Olivia Lomenech Gill, who was one of the keynote speakers and a workshop leader in the PQ Youth and Family programme, PQ2019 was an opportunity for sharing our expertise at a major event, attended by over 70,000 visitors, over 8,000 contributing artists, and with a significant online following (see PQ2019 Catalogue). Prof. Pavel Drábek collaborates with PQ, supporting the conceptual developments of PQ towards a continuous online platform that will culminate in PQ2023.

  • The Art of Dancing

    The Art of Dancing is a commercial recording released on Signum Classics (Gramophone Label of the Year 2017) featuring pianist Clare Hammond and harpist Rita Schindler. Inspired by the instrumentation of Shostakovich’s First Piano Concerto (1933), it includes four new concertos written by Nimrod Borenstein, Deborah Pritchard, Toby Young and Geoffrey Gordon, which feature the trumpet alongside another solo instrument, accompanied by conductor Kenneth Woods and the English String Orchestra.

    The recordings have since been broadcast several times worldwide, including BBC Radio 3, and received with critical acclaim: ‘beautifully performed, highly original disc’ – BBC Music Magazine.

  • Weathered Estates

    Commissioned as part of the Hull 2017 City of Culture programme, Weathered Estates was a co-production between the University of Hull, theatre company The Roaring Girls, playwright Zodwa Nyoni, and the Hull City of Culture Company. Taking Euripides’ Women of Troy as a starting point, the production explored women’s experiences of ‘home’ through key points in the history of Hull. The collaboration between Dr Amy Skinner (as artistic director), the Roaring Girls and Nyoni allowed for the development of a unique theatrical aesthetic which incorporated elements of poetry, choral music, puppetry, storytelling, audience interaction, and craftivism. Weathered Estates performed to sell-out audiences at the University of Hull’s Gulbenkian Centre and at the 2017 Women of the World festival. The production was also profiled in the local and national press, including The Guardian’s Top Tickets column.

  • Members

    Dr Matthew Barnard

    Lecturer/ Programme Director, BA Music Production | M.Barnard@hull.ac.uk

    Professor Pavel Drabek

    Professor of Drama and Theatre Practice | P.Drabek@hull.ac.uk

    Dr Peter Elsdon

    Senior Lecturer | P.S.Elsdon@hull.ac.uk

    Dr Cat Fergusson-Baugh

    Lecturer / Director of Drama | C.Fergusson-Baugh@hull.ac.uk

    Mr Stuart Lilford

    Programme Coordinator & Lecturer in Game Design | S.Lilford@hull.ac.uk

    Dr Christopher Newell

    Lecturer in Digital Media | C.Newell@hull.ac.uk

    Dr Rowan Oliver

    Lecturer in Music & Director of Music | R.A.Oliver@hull.ac.uk

    Dr Helen Prior

    Lecturer in Music | H.Prior@hull.ac.uk

    Dr Mark Slater

    Senior Lecturer in Music | M.Slater@hull.ac.uk

    Dr James Zborowski

    Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies | J.Zborowski@hull.ac.uk



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