Collaborative Doctoral Award Case study - Nadine Deller

Nadine Deller has been awarded a LAHP AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama to research ‘Deviancy and Potential in the Heterotopias of Black Women Playwrights in Britain: the radical position of Black women in the Black Plays Archive’ in collaboration with the National Theatre Black Plays Archive.

Nadine started her CDA in October 2019. Her research addresses the following questions:

  1. What is the position of Black women playwrights in the Black Plays Archive, and how does a
    spatialised reading of positionality extend existing understandings of their presence (or lack thereof) in
    the archive?

  2. What are the limits/issues with the BPA’s archival modes, how do these limits exclude Black women?

  3. How can the concept of ‘heterotopias of deviance’ be used to analyse the position of Black women
    playwrights in the BPA?

Working with the National Theatre enables Nadine to disseminate her research with the NT Community and build professional connections within the institution. The National Theatre Black Plays Archive not only provides Nadine access to the archive materials as a team member, but also to NT events and talks and training, which has given her invaluable experience, research skills, networking opportunities and educational resources to enrich her research. The most exciting part of her collaboration with the National Theatre is that she can also undertake other cultural projects that benefit both herself and the partner institution. Nadine is currently working on a BPA podcast to disseminate findings and materials in the Black Plays Archive, and she plans to curate an exhibition on plays by Black women.

Nadine hopes that her PhD will provide an alternative archival framework for the Black Plays Archive (BPA), highlight submerged Black women playwrights and problematise the BPA’s current archival modes that marginalise Black women. This will make a significant contribution to Black British theatre scholarship and will benefit academic research, the National Theatre’s Archive, the BPA, and a wider societal understanding of black women’s theatre. This research will contribute to a further understanding of marginalised histories and disseminate these findings in both an academic context and to the general public in accessible ways. Nadine’s CDA will contribute to understanding the history of Black people in Britain, showing how theatre becomes an active agent for social transformation.

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