Dr Pablo Pakula BA Hons, MA, PhD

Dr Pablo Pakula

Department of Drama and Theatre Arts
Teaching Fellow

Contact details

Address
The Old Library (SOVAC)
998 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LG

I am a practice-based scholar and I joined the department as a Teaching Fellow in September 2017, specialising in practically teaching theatre and performance. Besides being a university teacher and lecturer for over twelve years, I have been developing my practice as performance-maker, live artist and event curator since 2006.

At the University of Birmingham I have also set up creative, extra-curricular projects like ‘Live Art for the Green Heart’.

I was one of the founding members of Accidental Collective, and co-directed this Kent-based performance company till 2016 (creating over ten pieces, performing across the UK, securing major Arts Council funding, enabling development opportunities with fellow artists, and engaging with regional communities). The company’s work mixed genres and forms, often emphasising notions of interactivity and site-specificity.

As a solo live artist, I make work from the position of an outsider. Hybridity and otherness are cornerstones to my practice; which is process-led, socially-engaged and driven by queer politics. I have presented my work at venues like Camden People’s Theatre (2016, 2017, 2019), festivals like Buzzcut (2015) and Tempting Failure (2018), as well as live art clubnights like Deep Trash (2014, 2018) and PUPPY (2019).

Qualifications

  • PhD (2010) Drama and Theatre Studies, University of Kent
  • M.Drama First-class Honours(2006), Drama and Theatre Studies, University of Kent

Biography

Hailing originally from Spain, though also half German, I arrived to the UK in 2000 with a scholarship to complete the International Baccalaureate at UWC Atlantic College (Wales). Since then, and having made Britain my home, I identify as a European mongrel.

In 2006 I graduated with First Class Honours from a four-year M.Drama programme at the University of Kent, specialising in Contemporary Performance Practice. Thanks to AHRD funding, I went on to complete a PhD in association with The British Grotowski Project run by Professor Paul Allain.

As well as teaching at the University of Kent, I have taught at Central School of Speech and Drama and Canterbury Christ Church University as an associate and/or visiting lecturer.

I have trained and participated in workshops by a number of key practitioners: Guillermo Gomez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra, Gob Sqad, Rena Mirecka, Zygmunt Molik, Jola Cynkutis and Khalid Tjabji. I have also twice collaborated with dance/physical theatre company Gekidan Kaitaisha from Japan (2001, 2004); as well as being a member of the original team that worked with Richard Schechner to develop Imagining O (2011-12).

Teaching

My teaching at the department capitalises on my expertise as a practitioner and is mostly practical in nature. I convene and co-teach the core first year modules (Studio Practice, Theatre and Performance Practice), as well as second year core modules Theatre Lab and Theatre Praxis. In the third year, I also convene and teach on Live Art, and convene the Practical Project in Drama, a practice-as-research module.

Besides my teaching, I am passionate and active in creating extra-curricular opportunities for students, such as ‘Live Art Art for the Green Heart’.

I have also convened and taught: Rehearsing Dramatic Texts, a second year module for English students; Collaborative Strategies, focusing on ensemble work; Curating Performance, a third year practical module.

Research

As a professional performance-maker and live artist, I chose to frame my creative output as Practice-Research, which means both elements are entirely co-dependent and have equal value and importance. Rather than articulating my findings and arguments through conventional publications, they are tested, expressed and shared through pieces of performance or, in some instances, through pedagogical performance projects. My Practice-Research has both an artistic and a pedagogical strand, with inevitable overlaps.

My main areas of interest are the performance event as a site for encounter enabled through aural and visual composition, the porous dramaturgy of interactive work, the materiality and corporeality inherent in performance, musicality as a structuring device, and the exploration of strategies that problematise meaning-making processes. As a result, I am particularly drawn to ritual structures, task-based actions, and the use of totemic objects. I also employ approaches that may start with the written word, or deliberately employ word games, but which go beyond discursive language. This gives my work a visceral and heightened experiential character.

Artistically, my current Practice-Research investigates the concerns mentioned above using the notion of litanies as its anchoring concept. The word litany comes from the ancient Greek λιτανεία (litaneia) meaning prayer. Litanies are musically structured lists which are ‘active texts’ in that they go beyond the merely aesthetic or descriptive, seeking to accomplish a clear objective that can be expressed as a verb: to lament, to extol, to warn, to supplicate…  Moreover, in many religions, litanies are texts composed of more than one voice (that of the cleric, and the answers replied by the congregation). Therefore, the idea of a litany already understands the performance event as active relationship between the performer and their audience.

Examples of this Practice-Research are: UNNEGATIVE (2018, first presented at Tempting Failure Festival, London); RAVE vs RAGE (2019, first presented at live art club night PUPPY, London); YES NO BLACK WHITE (2019, first presented at Camden People’s Theatre, London); Hell Is Other People and ECCE CORPUS (both currently in development). Each of these pieces has its own particular focus, though there are common threads running through them.

 

Pedagogically, my Practice-Research focuses on strategies for teaching live art practices in an applied fashion. I am keen to investigate how live art methodologies can enable practical learning about fundamental issues such as:

-        the performer’s (or even the actor’s) presence, and how to prepare them for their encounter with the live audience;

-        the relationship between outward event and inner experience (pertaining both performers/actors and the audience);

-        and the skills needed in areas such as conceptual dramaturgy and aural-visual composition.

In July 2017 I conducted a week-long workshop in El Campello (Alicante, Spain) for theatre artists who had never before experienced live art practices. The workshop took place within the frame of Almadrama Teatro’s summer intensive courses.

More recently, in September 2019, I conceived and facilitated STOMPING GROUND!, an international performance and live art residency celebrated in Galera (Granada, Spain). The benefits of this residency went beyond the participating artists, because it was a vehicle that enabled me to creatively revolutionise this sleepy Andalusian village; and given its success, the Town Hall is keen to host similar activities in the coming years.

I have also conceived and facilitated an extracurricular and pedagogical live art project for students at the University of Birmingham. Between June 2019 and May 2020, in conjunction with the Green Heart Festival, students have the opportunity to undertake practical workshops with live artists and then create their own live art intervention in the Green Heart, the university’s new landscaped central space.

Other activities

Other Activities

 

  • I am passionate and active in creating extra-curricular opportunities for students, such as ‘Live Art Art for the Green Heart’.
  • In September 2019 I ran the live art and performance residency STOMPING GROUND! in Galera (Spain) for the first time.
  • In 2015, I co-organised and co-facilitated Theatre, Interactivity, Democracy with Dr. Duska Radosavljevic (Unicorn Theatre, London): 
  • Between 2011 and 2014, as part of Accidental Collective, I helped conceive and run Pot Luck, an artists’ development platform funded by Arts Council England and Kent County
  • Council for two seasons (11 events in total, 9 venues, 115 artists, 6 commissions). Pot Luck was the Canterbury Award Winner 2012 as 'Cultural Pioneer'.
  • In 2013, I was the Public Engagement Project Leader: conceived, organised and ran Lifting the Curtain: Theatre Research @ Kent (The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury).
  • Later on that same year, I co-organised and co-facilitated ‘Lifting the Curtain: On Audience and Authorship’ with Dr. Duska Radosavljevic, Chris Johnston from Rideout/The Argument Room and Daisy Orton, (ICA, London).
  • In 2009, I conceived and co-organised the two day international symposium ‘Grotowski: after – alongside– around – ahead’ (University of Kent, Canterbury).
  • In 2005 I co-founded Accidental Collective with Daisy Orton. This contemporary performance company based in Kent has created work for non-theatre spaces as well as studios. 

 

 

Publications

  • 'The Gentle Rhythm of Walking is Often a Tonic for Thought' in Performance Artist's Workbook: On teaching and learning performance art - essays and exercises. ed. Pilvi Porkola, vol. 61 The Publication Series of the Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki

With Roanna Mitchell

  • ‘Imagining O encountering India: Recounting and embodied Experience’ in Studies in South Asian Film & Media, vol.4 (2), October 2012, pp.179-188

Publications as part of Accidental Collective

  • ‘Making Your Parachute On The Way Down’ in DIY (Do. It. Yourself) ed. Robert Daniels, 2014, The University of Chichester
  • 'DIY---HOPE' in DIY Too ed. Robert Daniels, 2015, The University of Chichester
  • 'Waiting for Hope' (Exeunt, 24/11/14)
  • 'An Invitation' (Exeunt, 5/02/15)
  • 'Accidental Collective: "It's a million miles away from what we thought we were making."' (Exeunt, 6/11/15, interview with David Ralf) 
  • Richard Schechner’s lecture 9-11 as avant-garde performance?', in Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, vol.1 (2), September 2010, pp.247-247
  • 'Physical Theatres: A Critical Introduction and Physical Theatres: A Critical Reader by John Keffee and Simon Murray', in Theatre Research International, vol.34 (1), 2009, pp.94-95

 

‘The British Grotowski Project: a review’ in Slavic and East European Performance, vol.28 (1), Winter 2008, pp.39-47

View all publications in research portal