Gap Knowledge: the Epistemology of Practice as Research

On the 14th November 2018, P.A. Skantze came to give a talk as part of the Performance and Community REG programme. P.A. is a Reader in Performance Practices at Roehampton University. She directs theatre and composes for performance in Europe and the UK.  Her musical Stacks will premiere in 2019 and her production Scoring Shakespeare an amalgam of text and sung libretto will premier at the National Theater of Croatia in 2020.

P.A’s talk was entitled, ‘Gap Knowledge: the Epistemology of Practice as Research’. For some time, the concept of Practice-as-research has caused controversy within the academy by challenging the traditional bounds of scholarship, research and how knowledge is transmitted (and arguably, performed). P.A. herself states that her Practice-as-Research work, ‘gives shape (changing, shifting shape) to a form of thinking, of making, of thinking in making and making in thinking already alive in the practice as research work underway for many performance artists/scholars and theatre makers’. Indeed, key to her discussion of her opera Scoring Shakespeare was the affirmation of the script itself a kind of score, whose musicality and potential is realised through the hybrid form that opera represents. That is, the play itself is ‘far more subtle than written description allows for’ and only by exploring through practice, can one come to realise the potential of the work and, as a corollary, the unity of theory and practice, because such engagements represent theory-in-practice. This is in some sense reminiscent of the familiar idea that a script is a ‘blueprint’ for performance, but P.A’s observations helped to broaden these kinds of ideas into the questions of research and the role of the academic.

One thing I found particularly interesting was P.A’s idea that one needs to practice ‘abandoning oneself to the supposition that one does not know’. This seems to me not only an epistemologically modest position, but as a starting position, characterises an exiting way of seeing research (and Practice-as-Research) as something open, explorative and whose end-state is provisional.

For more information on P.A’s work:

And here is a link to the video:


Craig Jordan-Baker

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