Dr Xristina Penna

Dr Xristina Penna


I completed my PhD at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds in 2017.

In this, I developed a number of shifting methodological and practice-method tools that contribute to making and thinking of contemporary performance design as a co-originating process and exchange with the audience. By imbricating embodied and enactive cognitive frameworks, and neuroscience metaphors of consciousness and perception within original participatory performance practice (see for example Work Space II ) I have developed further her ‘arts praxis’ (Nelson 2006), what I have coined as the ‘scenographic contraption’ (Penna 2013). This practical, conceptual, and analytical framework of the ‘contraption’ generates participatory encounters between materials, space, and audiences, and is further used as a way of conceptualising scenography and participation within these shifting encounters.

I have contributed to international academic conferences and symposia in the fields of performance, humanities and cognition such as the Cognitive Futures in the Arts and Humanities, Worlding the Brain, AISB, IFTR. My performance installation work (www.aswespeakproject.org) has been presented internationally (USA, UK and Greece).


  • Researcher
  • Guest Lecturer

Research interests

During the LHRI fellowship I took part at the Cognitive Futures in the Arts and Humanities Conference 2018  with a practice-led presentation entitled Attempts on Post-Representation (multiple drafts). This practice-led experiment, followed by a ten-minute presentation, explored post-representational performance through the practical tool of the ‘scenographic contraption’ using a card game, information from the conference attendants, and a piñata. Drawing from this presentation and my previous research on ‘contraptions’ and ‘cognition as prediction’ (Clark 2015), I will work towards writing a paper to submit for publication at the open access journal Cogent Humanities in December 2018.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

I have led a module on contemporary performance design in which I delivered three-hour workshop style sessions, marked student essays and provided administrative support.

I have worked as supervisor for third-year undergraduates for their Independent Research Project and have provided tutorials to students across various modules in the School.

In other institutions I have delivered lectures to undergraduate students on: Postmodernism in Performance, Postdramatic Theatre, Liveness and Multimedia Performance, Postdramatic Space in Performance, Autobiography in Performance, Contemporary Scenography, Semiotics in performance. Also seminars on Contemporary Performance and workshops on Performance Design.


Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute