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UAL Research Online

Ten thousand several doors

Collins, Jane and Farley, Peter (2006) Ten thousand several doors. [Art/Design Item]

Type of Research: Art/Design Item
Creators: Collins, Jane and Farley, Peter

This work is a site-specific adaptation of 'The Duchess of Malfi' by John Webster. It is a collaborative practice-as-research project, and is part of an ongoing investigation into the ways in which site-specific locations might be utilised for the ‘re-staging' of Renaissance plays in ways that offer up new meanings for a contemporary audience.

A series of workshops set out to challenge some of the common assumptions about madness in the play and to push the boundaries between audience and action. Collins and Farley explored the building's natural light and ambient background noise and the claustrophobic potential of the smaller rooms; action took place in the bar and on the Station Concourse. Collins adapted the text, directed the company of eight actors and the workshop culminated in two performances to an invited audience. Alternating between spectator and participant the audience was moved through the space driven by the action and as a result forced to become complicit in the fate of the protagonists.

Other Contributors:
OtherWebster, John
Other Corporate or Group Contributors:
RoleOther Corporate or Group Contributors
OtherProdigal Theatre Company
Additional Information (Publicly available):

Jane Collins

Research Interests

Performance, specifically the relationship between word and image. Collaborative practice, the interface between 'performance art' and 'art performance' as a potential site for the making of new work Re-staging renaissance plays in ways which engage and challenge contemporary audiences. Scenography. New writing. Contemporary African Performance and the reception and perception of work from the continent of Africa on the world stage.


Jane Collins is a Reader in Theatre and Contextual Studies Co-ordinator for Theatre at Wimbledon. She is a writer, Director and theatre maker who works all over the UK and internationally. She has a long association with the continent of Africa and for The Royal Court, with the National Theatre of Uganda, she codirected Maama Nalukalala N_dezze Lye (Mother Courage and her Children) by Bertolt Brecht, with a Ugandan cast in Kampala. This production, which was the first official translation of a play by Brecht into an African language, toured internationally. Her AHRC funded research into 'performing identities' resulted in a new work for the stage The Story of the African Choir which was developed in conjunction with the Market Theatre Laboratory in Johannesburg and performed at the Grahamstown International Festival in 2007. Throughout 2008-09 her research was mainly engaged with co-editing Theatre and Performance Design: a reader in scenography, which was published by Routledge in January 2010. This book, with over 52 texts is the first of its kind in this field. In addition, in 2009, her practice based performance research included re-staging the award winning Ten Thousand Several Doors for the Brighton International Festival. Collins has been asked to contribute an essay on Ten Thousand Several Doors to the forth coming collection Performing Site-Specific Theatre edited by Anna Birch and Joanne Tompkins to be published in late 2011.
In November 2009 Collins was commissioned by the V&A to research and produce a soundscape to accompany the forthcoming Space and Light: Edward Gordon Craig exhibition which opens in London in September 2010 and tours to Europe in 2011. Edward Gordon Craig is credited with being the founder of modern stage design. Collins was also one of a group of artists who participated in re:SEARCHING playing in the archive an exhibition at the ING Bank in the city of London in May 2010 in response to the Baring archive.
Research Statement
My research continues to focus on performance and practise based research methodologies which re-engage the 'theatrical' as a means of interrogating contemporary society. In 2007 I wrote an article for Studies in Theatre and Performance which examined the efficacy of performance as a means of investigating the construction of post colonial identities through the 'staging' of an African 'past'. One aspect of this research was an analysis of the scenographic framing of these performances for western audiences. Among the many outcomes of this process was the identification of a dearth of material with which to interrogate critically the visual aspects of performance in particular and the scenographic in general. Concurrent with this, in my role as Contextual Studies Coordinator for Theatre at Wimbledon, I was also concerned that students of theatre designdid not have a comprehensive body of accessible written texts to help them situate their own work and analyse the work of others. Theatre and Performance Design, a reader in scenography aims to fulfil this need and continues to be the main focus of my research as a practitioner and in my critical writing.

Peter Farley

Research interests

Peter Farley's research interests are threefold: - the documentation, archiving and dissemination of the creative process of the theatre designer/scenographer; the re-creation and restaging of important half-forgotten works of modern classical dance; and the reinterpretation of classical renaissance texts to make new works of theatre.


Peter Farley is a theatre designer/scenographer who has worked both nationally and internationally. Over the past ten years, his theatre work has been concerned with devising and designing new work based on classical Renaissance plays. During this time, he has also been an Associate Designer for the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Peter was trained at Wimbledon College of Art where he is now a Senior Lecturer. He has a Master of Arts degree in Theatre Design/Scenography and in 2006, he was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council Promising Researcher Fellowship. He has written contributions to books and catalogues and has designed and curated many exhibitions. He is a Director of the Nightingale Theatre, Brighton.

Current Research

Firstly, over the last eight years he has been collaborating with Yolanda Sonnabend in researching, recreating and restaging the half-forgotten designs for ballets first created by the late Sir Kenneth Macmillan in the 1970s and 1980s for the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden. The research sources are old black and white archival photographs, fragments of original scale models, original drawings and also personal memory. The process had also generated an investigation into new and exciting construction materials and fabrics that were not available when the works were first produced.

Secondly, he has been engaged in research concerning how Renaissance texts in unconventional and site-specifc locations might offer up alternative readings for contemporary audiences and, from a scenographic perspective, how issues of scale and proxemics affect the reception of texts from this period. His most recent work, Ten Thousand Several Doors, based on Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, was created for the Brighton International Festival in May 2006 and continues this ongoing research in collaboration with director, Jane Collins, which includes Webster's Women in the1990's and Shakespeare's Dream-on-Sea in 2003.

Lastly, In 2006, he was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council Promising Researcher Fellowship to explore ways in which current and historic scenographic process can be documented, archived and disseminated for the use of theatre specialists and the public at large. This work will become part of a scenographic archive at Wimbledon College of Art building upon the College's acquisition of the Jocelyn Herbert and Richard Negri archives.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: theatre, performance, site specific, webster, malfi, interaction
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Wimbledon College of Arts
Date: 6 May 2006
Funders: Arts Council England, Made in Brighton, The Brighton Festival, Wimbledon College of Art
Related Websites: http://www.ejpcollins.info/
Related Websites:
Event Location: Brighton International Festival
Locations / Venues:
LocationFrom DateTo Date
Brighton International Festival, BrightonMay 2006
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2009 20:59
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2014 12:25
Item ID: 1929
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1929

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