Relationships between power and agency: The role of the ‘theatre designer’ in performance-making processes

  • Harriet Richmond (Speaker)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


In 2013, the Contemporary Theatre Review dedicated an issue to ‘Alphabet: A Lexicon of Theatre and Performance’. The entry for ‘M’, ‘Mise en Scene’, reflects on the invisible creativity of the ‘unseen work that led to the production’s first night’ (Singleton, 2013, p.47). This paper aims to address an absence of theorising about the ways that professional identities and creative practices of theatre designers are shaped by performance-making practices. Theatre design pedagogy has been selected as the site of investigation because it provides a means by which normative beliefs and practices about ‘being’ a designer and ‘doing’ design, might be evaluated. I consider how designers’ ‘agency’ is expressed and/or implied in contemporary theatre design pedagogies, and the relationship of this to how power is manifested in ‘structures’ (Giddens, 1984) of performance making. I conclude that differences between dramatic or ‘texted’ performance (Schechner, 1968) and devised, site specific or ‘post-dramatic’ performance (Lehmann, 2006), frame conceptions and enactment of designer agency in different ways. In particular, I focus on three notions of agency; ‘authorial agency’ (Isackes, 2012), ‘professional agency’ (Eteläpelto et al, 2013) and ‘identity agency’ (Hitlin and Elder, 2007).
Period31 Jul 2007
Event titleEuropean Group For Organizational Studies: Organizing in the Shadow of Power
Event typeConference
LocationNaples, ItalyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Power
  • Agency