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Practice as Research PhD projects


Joanne 'Bob' Whalley and Lee Miller | UK, MMU (Cheshire)

'Motorway as Site of Performance: Space is a Practised Place'

Conjoined Practice as Research PhD, completed 2004

Supervisor: Prof. Robin Nelson

External examiners: Prof. Baz Kerhsaw (Bristol), Prof. Mike Pearson (Aberystwyth)

Title: 'Motorway as Site of Performance: Space is a Practised Place'


The main outcomes of this PhD project in the domain of Performance Studies comprise an originally-devised, site-specific performance centred on Whalley and Miller renewing their wedding vows (50%) and a complementary written thesis (50%). The one-off performance took place at Roadchef Sandbach Services on the M6 Motorway on 20 September 02. These main outcomes are supplemented by a DVD document bound into this written thesis which serves as an illustrative permanent record of the ephemeral performance, and exhibits material developed throughout the research process. Readers may wish to access the DVD prior to the written thesis.

The entire project, processes and products, are collaborative and the writing includes an overt reflection upon the joint creation of knowledge, drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of ‘two-fold thinking’, primarily articulated in A Thousand Plateaus. Consideration is also given in this context to artists engaged in collaborative practice with whom Whalley and Miller share a genealogy.

Whalley and Miller’s overall conceptual framework includes an exploration of Bakhtin’s ‘dialogism’ and ‘heteroglossia’ besides other poststructuralist theorists who work with the language games, speech genres and the multi-accentuality of the sign. Their project resists, however, outright capitulation to postmodern différance. In inter-related ways, the performance and the complementary writing explore and qualify key concepts of Augé (‘place’ and ‘non-place’) and Schechner (‘as’/‘is’ performance’) positing a ‘both-and’ performativity which embraces the anthropological space of motorway services and the sincerity of ‘speech acts’ (J.L. Austin) in the instance of the wedding vow renewal.


the fictional dogshelf theatre company

Bob Whalley and Lee Miller