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

Harriet Richmond

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaperpeer-review


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).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2016
EventEuropean Group For Organizational Studies: Organizing in the Shadow of Power - University of Naples Federico II, Department of Economics, Management and Institutions, Naples, Italy
Duration: 7 Jul 20169 Jul 2016


ConferenceEuropean Group For Organizational Studies
Internet address


  • Power
  • agency
  • theatre


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