Re-imaging costume: between the archive, the studio and the rehearsal room

The School of Performance and Cultural Industries invites you to the third seminar in the 2019-20 research seminar series.

Location: Alec Clegg, stage@leeds theatre, University of Leeds

All welcome, please register for your free place by emailing Linda Watson

For the third seminar in the series we welcome Donatella Barbieri, senior research fellow and principal lecturer in design for performance at London College of Fashion: University of the Arts London.

Through practice, pedagogy and research publishing and over a period of fifteen years, I have advanced a re-evaluation and re-imaging of costume that challenges its traditional - and arguably limiting - definitions. Such expanded notion of what costume can be, is underpinned by a new materialist perspective through which material performativity precedes, or works with, processes of embodiment. I will discuss a research trajectory that, navigating practice and theory, initially proposes a physical pedagogy in which motion-expanding, worn elements provide the impetus for performance making. Findings will be questioned via the performativity of extant costumes that survive in national and private archives and are examined from a new materialist perspective. Such meandering into the archive will re-engage the rehearsal room and I shall conclude with my most recent research theorising around my own practice with a focus in particular on Karen Barad’s (2007) embedding of ethics into practice, in a meeting of the universe through costume.


Costume scenographer, researcher and writer Donatella Barbieri is senior research fellow and principal lecturer in design for performance at London College of Fashion: University of the Arts London. She is the author of Costume in Performance: Materiality, Culture and the Body, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. (Prague Quadrennial, 2019 Best Performance Design & Scenography Publication Award and shortlisted for the Society of Theatre Research Book Award)and founding editor of Studies in Costume and Performance.As a practice-centred researcher, she has authored articles and chapters for both performance and fashion scholarly publications while her costume-based practice has been performed and displayed in museums and other cultural sites such as the V&A and the British Library. Her long association with Prague Quadrennial includes the curation of PQ07 Scenofest costume workshops and the co-production of "LES /Forest" performance with Jana Zborilova at DAMU. Performance "Old into New" for PQ 11 was devised with performer Mary Kate Connolly, while "Wearing Space" at PQ15 was re-proposed in Oslo, Tallin and Galway. More recently she devised “Materials Interactions” in collaboration with an international group of designers and performers at PQ19. Her advancing of knowledge around costume through pedagogy includes the founding of the experimental MA in costume design for performance at LCF:UAL.

Image: Wearing Space, Donatella Barbieri with Giulia Pecorari and Mary Kate Connolly