Mary Davies

Mary Davies

Shakespeare Institute
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Exploring ‘Radical Mischief’: Investigating the intentions behind the re-opening of the new Other Place at the Royal Shakespeare Company, 2016-2020
Supervisor: Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall and Erica Whyman (Royal Shakespeare Company) 
PhD Shakespeare Studies

Research

My thesis investigates the role of the new Other Place (TOP) within the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) since the re-opening of the building in 2016. I am the recipient of the Royal Shakespeare Company/University of Birmingham The Other Place PhD scholarship, and I am jointly supervised by both institutions. The original Other Place is remembered for its stripped-back conditions (no central heating!), ‘shoe-string’ budgets in the words of its first Artistic Director Buzz Goodbody, and the intimate relationship between actors and spectators. Following a trial season in the tin shed in 1973, previous RSC Artistic Director Trevor Nunn granted TOP its name and the building first officially opened in 1974. TOP continued to present a mixed repertoire, staging Shakespeare and early modern drama alongside new writing, until its closure in 2005.

In 2016, TOP has re-emerged as a space for experiment, to explore innovative ideas and practice. Further, this sense of experimentation is invested with a political consciousness. The thesis considers the aims of the RSC for the new TOP and its spirit of ‘Radical Mischief’ – a spirit that provokes serious, intellectual ideas about the world in which we live, whilst also being playful and entertaining. I consider the significance of new work and experimentation at the RSC, and how TOP influences the wider organisation and beyond. Ultimately, the thesis reflects upon the ways in which the proposed aims have been fulfilled, and the extent to which TOP really is the ‘creative engine’, as the Company claims.

In addition to my PhD thesis, I work as a free-lance theatre-maker and dramaturg. My other research interests include Welsh theatre and cultural identity, and new drama development in America.