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Spaces of Appearance

Meet our staff

In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt wrote about "spaces of appearance", which "come into being whenever [persons] are together in the manner of speech and action, and therefore predates and precedes all formal constitution of the public realm and the various forms of government" (Arendt [1958] 1998: 199). 

Spaces of Appearance research cluster is concerned with the ‘spaces’ in which under-represented identities ‘appear’ and exist in the world. This includes consideration of:

  • Practices of appearance
  • Methods of appearance
  • Theories of appearance
  • Questions of appearance

Drawing on the spirit of dialogue and the synergy of speech and action captured by Arendt, we aim to provide a place for sharing research from within and beyond the Drama staff at Northumbria University. Spaces of Appearance is a forum for performance, theatre and drama-related research. It a place to consider how we appear and exist in the world alongside others.  

Spaces of Appearance embraces a broad scope of practices and research including, but not limited to, performance by and with communities and non-trained performers, the performance of combat sport, trans performance, autobiographical and verbatim performance, applied and socially-engaged theatres, performance philosophy and stand-up comedy. Previously, staff in Performing Arts came together as a research group named Performance and Identity.


Activities of the research group include a series of curated presentations each semester on campus, also hosting seminars, workshops, presentations, performances, discussion and more. The events are an opportunity to share our practice and scholarly research and the work of colleagues, both within the university and beyond. Guest speakers and performers are invited to present on related themes. Events across the city in 2019 have included a book launch for the upcoming publications of three staff and a seminar series for Northumbria University Arts staff. 2019/20 activity includes Autumn events at the Experimental Studio, Baltic 39, New Bridge Street Newcastle.

Monday 28th October 2019 5.30pm at Baltic 39 Experimental Studio, High Bridge, Newcastle

Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art

Dr Alison Jeffers, University of Manchester presents on her book published by Bloomsbury Methuen: Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art. The British Community Arts Movement, edited by Alison Jeffers and Gerri Moriarty. In uncovering the neglected history of the Community Arts Movement in the 1970s and early 1980s, the book taps into a resurgent interest in questions of cultural democracy and cultural rights.

Alison Jeffers is a Lecturer in Applied Theatre and Contemporary Performance at the University of Manchester. Her monograph, Refugees, Theatre and Crisis: performing global identities was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2010 and was awarded the TaPRA prize for promising research by an early career researcher in 2012.

Thursday 21st November 2019 4 pm at Baltic 39 Experimental Studio, High Bridge, Newcastle

"Be Water": How Hong Kong Protest Art Swims Against the Tide of Totalitarianism 

Dr Wessie Ling, Northumbria University 

The unpopular enforcement of extradition bill has sparked off the months-long protest in Hong Kong. The protesters adopt Bruce Lee's tactics of "be water" to evade police crackdown which has come to play a crucial role in the movement as well as the mass circulated visuals that support it. This talk looks at Hong Kong protest art through which examines the stylistic strategy of 'be water' in the form of performance through visual representation. In conjunction with the illustrative talk is the review on a live art event in solidarity with Hong Kong, "Be Water", in London (12/10/19) and its role in the social movement of Hong Kong.

Dr Wessie Ling is a Reader in Fashion Studies, a member of VM Cultures and teaches MA in Creative and Cultural Industries Management at the Department of Arts, Northumbria University. Recent volumes include Fashion in Multiple Chinas: Chinese Styles in the Transglobal Landscape (2018) and "Italianerie": Transculturality, Co-creation and Transforming Identities between Italy and Asia, a special issue for Modern Italy (2019). 


Spaces of Appearance Schedule for Seminar Series, Semester 2, 2020

Presentations of PhD researchers in Drama subject area  12th March 5pm -6.30pm Room Sandyford 313

Rebecca Mather, Anthea Moys, Sarah Kemp  

For further details please contact


Find out more here.


Find out more here.


PhD Research Students

Sarah Kemp 2017-2020

 'An exploration of the impact of actor training, based on the practice of Philippe Gaulier and Monika Pagneux, on the creativity, health and wellbeing of older people'.

Supervisor Dr Catherine Bailey

Second Supervisor Dr Kay Hepplewhite

Rebecca Mather 2019-2022

‘An interdisciplinary artistic investigation into intercultural singing-youth-theatre practice, exploring relationships between affective group singing, theatre making and the generation of personal and social meaning’.

Supervisor Dr Kay Hepplewhite

Second Supervisor Dr Lazlo Pearlman

Anthea Moys 2018-21

Supervisor Dr Solomon Lennox

Second Supervisor Linda Taylor

Alice Potter 2020-

Supervisor Jane Arnfield

Second Supervisor Dr Sandra Johnston


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