Practice as research in musical theatre � reviewing the situation | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1750-3159
  • E-ISSN: 1750-3167



The convergence of conservatoire-style training with academia has witnessed an explosion of practice as research (PaR) projects � or what in some academic quarters constitutes research, which is practice led or practice based. During the last five years, we have seen a high water mark in PaR pursuits within musical theatre training and performance. Yet, despite the benefit of research paradigms and publications from adjacent fields, practice-based musical theatre researchers often find themselves somewhat adrift when it comes to understanding the ways in which PaR is formulated, understood, and indeed practiced. This article offers both a general overview of the situation that PaR musical theatre currently finds itself in, and also provides scenarios of what that research might look like. As a springboard for the article I use Robin Nelson�s recent examination of the field, and particularly the fundamental trope of �doing-thinking� which is formulated in and through the notion of praxis (2013: 40). From here my discussion will develop in two ways. First, I look at various settings in academia in which I have encountered PaR, occasions that have given rise to issues about the ineffability of the art form and the intentionality of practice during research. Second, I focus on the nascence, resistance and potential of practice-based research in musical theatre. Crucially the inherent complexity of musical theatre offers us a chance to reflect on the dyadic concept of �doing-thinking�. To that end I propose taxonomic distinctions that may help convert an essentially dialectical concept into an analytical tool for the appraisal and evaluation of musical theatre PaR.


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