Artistic Collaborations - TORCH

Logo for The Oxford Research Centre in the HumanitiesIn addition to its own programmes, the APGRD also collaborates in projects funded by TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities).

Penelope’s Web

The Alternative Queen's Speech: Composer Cheryl Frances-HoadThe Alternative Queen's Speech: Opera director and librettist Jeanne Pansard-BessonThis project brings together creative artists and Oxford researchers to develop a new 90-minute opera based on Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad (2005), by composer Dr Cheryl Frances-Hoad (right) and opera director/librettist Dr Jeanne Pansard-Besson (left). The opera, like Atwood's novella, turns the canonical narrative of Homer's Odyssey upside down: Odysseus' wife, Penelope, traditionally the model of marital fidelity and patient endurance, is given the chance to offer her side of the story from the underworld.

Now titled Penelope’s Web, the project consists of two workshops, the first of which will take place in Oxford from 14-19 April in the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building at St Hilda’s College and will involve students from the Cheney School (Oxford) and young singers from Frideswide Voices at Christ Church. The workshop will include a study afternoon on Thursday 18 April, 2-6pm, with contributions from Lucy Jackson, Justine McConnell, Alex Silverman, Laura Swift and Oliver Taplin and will culminate in a performance on Friday 19 April at 6pm, to which everyone is welcome.


Under the project's orignal title, The Alternative Queen's Speech, the first aria was commissioned in 2021 from the National Opera Studio (see below), and during a three-day residency in the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building at St Hilda's College (6-8 June 2022), the composer, director/librettist, two singers and a student actor, worked together with researchers from Classics, English, Modern Languages and Music, and students from the Cheney School, Oxford. A public lecture/performance was held on Wednesday 8 June 2022 at 5pm. A film of the project has been made by filmmaker and photographer, Rocio Chacon ('an opera in the making' - see below). On 24 April 2023 a roundtable discussion, 'Penelope’s Song: Beginning to write an Odyssey Opera', was held at Keble College, Chaplain’s Office, with Cheryl Frances-Hoad and Jeanne Pansard-Besson sharing their initial thoughts and receiving input from those interested in the shaping of an operatic response to the story of the Odyssey. The APGRD is joining KCL, Princeton, NYU, and the English National Opera in the next stage of the opera’s development.  

Dancing with Apollo

Dancing With Apollo Workshop: Dancers Liam Riddick and Laurel Dalley-SmithThis TORCH/DANSOX/APGRD collaboration brings together a group of artists and Oxford researchers to begin research and development on a larger programme of dance, music and words: ‘Dancing with Apollo'. Spitalfields Festival has commissioned a new score from composer Edmund Finnis (A Duet in the Dark) and the week's residency will take place in Oxford from 4-9 July in the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building at St Hilda's College. The premiere will take place in London on Sunday 11 July 2021, 5.30pm at King's Place, London. Dancing With Apollo Workshop: Choreographer Kim Brandstrup; dancers Liam Riddick and Laurel Dalley-Smith

The residency will develop the first dance piece based on Cupid and Psyche, which was at the heart of the early modern quarrel between the ancients and the moderns and has particular resonance today with the ♯MeToo movement. The focus will also be on the myth's concern with touch, breath and lack of (fore-)sight - themes that speak especially powerfully to the dictates of the current pandemic. 

Dancing With Apollo Workshop: Dancers Liam Riddick and Laurel Dalley-SmithThe residency involves celebrated choreographer, Kim Brandstrup and two professional dancers, Liam Riddick and Laurel Dalley-Smith, award-winning violinist, Sara Trickey and pianist, Ivana Gavric, with Marina Warner (All Souls) as dramaturg. Further academic engagement will come from Sue Jones (Director DANSOX), Fiona Macintosh (Director APGRD), and Stephen Harrison. A film of the workshop by distinguished film-maker Rocio Chacon will be made available following the residency.

Greek Tragedy: Masterclass on Film

A TORCH-funded APGRD/Out of Chaos collaboration, ‘Greek Tragedy – masterclasses on film’ brings together international practitioners and experts to make a short film about Antigone aimed at online theatre audiences, as well as university and school students. The project builds on the success of Out of Chaos’ Reading Greek Tragedy Online.

Two professional actors - Evelyn Miller and Tim Delap - will explore different interpretations with director Paul O'Mahony through discussion and in rehearsal, alongside talking heads from the creative industries and academia.

BAME Medea

In May 2018 the Oxford University Drama Society (OUDS) performed a modern adaptation of Euripides' tragedy Medea with an all BAME cast and crew. Designed to tackle the lack of diverse theatre at Oxford University, the production was driven by the desire to bring numerous cultures and people of colour together to perform this powerful, classical story in a reimagined way, through original music, movement and spoken word. 

Chorus In Action

Participants during the Chorus in Action Workshop: six adults with hands raisedAn interdisciplinary research initiative bringing together theatre practitioners, theatre historians and scholars of ancient Greek and Roman theatre in order to explore and forge new ways of staging the ancient chorus in theatre today. A parallel objective was to broaden scholarly conceptions of the dramatic potentials of the chorus both as an historical component the drama of Graeco-Roman antiquity and as a contemporary dramatic tool. This collaborative networkParticipants during the Chorus in Action Workshop: 4 adults with headphones on, 1 man in foreground speaking, in front of a screen with a video projection on it built on previous interconnections between the academy and the theatre by bringing together groups of academics and practitioners over a sustained period of time. 


Ancient Dance in Modern Dancers

Ancient Dance in Modern Dancers was a collaborative practice-based study carried out by the APGRD in conjunction with the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISCA), and funded by TORCH under the support scheme for interdisciplinary research networks. It ran a series of workshops involving professionally-trained dancers, investigating how they process selected stimulus materials en-route to creating a 'reconstructive' performance of the Roman dance form tragoedia saltata. It is not the final performance itself that is of interest so much as the cognitive responses of the participants. In this way, they hope to develop ways of articulating the knowledge derived from kinaesthetic engagement with ancient material.