Elizabeth and The Three Sisters

Lorraine Smith, Annie O’Donnell, Peter Heselton

    Research output: Non-textual formPerformance


    Smith uses her practical work and specialist skills and awareness as an experiential costume performer and choreographer, to bring a unique analytical perspective to her research that invites conversation between performers, performance makers, costume designers and scholars. Combining practical and theoretical research, Smith has interrogated conventional choreographic approaches and evidenced the effectiveness of costume as starting point in the devising process. This research led to the creation of commissioned live performance Elizabeth & The Three Sisters, which was used as a case study in three conference papers, two articles (one to be published in 2021) and exhibited as part of Cabinets of Costume Exhibition, Culture Costume and Dress Conference 2017. Smith practically builds on Barbieri’s innovative pedagogical methods of a costume-based approach to methods of devising performance (2012), and the LEM approach of a rehearsal-room-based process of ‘openness, curiosity, intuition and learning by doing, undoing and redoing’ (Barbieri, 2007: 6). Unconventional manmade materials and contemporary sculpture approaches are used to develop wearable sculptures (costume items), which in turn are applied as a choreographic starting point. This process allows Smith to devise the live performance and engage in the working approach of costume as an additional partner, that offers sensations that can be listened and responded to (Gravestock, 2013), leading to the enrichment of movement vocabulary and expressed imagery (Trimingham and Barbieri, 2016; Monks, 2010). Elizabeth & The Three Sisters practically evidences the concept of ‘costume as choreographer’ (Mann and Summerlin, 2016) and assimilates costume as a dynamic sculptural and expressive form that can stimulate and be integrated with the moving body in performance (informing Smith’s ongoing costume research). The project also substantiates costume as an important and effective choreographic tool in [dance] performance. Finally, the research was a catalyst for the devising of new term ‘costumographer’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2016

    Bibliographical note

    Originally commissioned by Stellar Projects, EATTS was performed in and around the Middlesbrough’s Centre Square fountain during the family event Nightfall (Best Event Teesside 2016 category finalist for the Journal Culture Awards 2017), as part of the Discover Middlesbrough festival celebrating the town’s history, heritage, art and culture. The event represents the thriving contemporary arts of the Tees Valley, an area often under-represented in the wider art scene.

    Nightfall estimated audience reached: 3500


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