Degree Name

Doctor of Creative Arts


School of the Arts, English and Media - Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts


Brief Synopsis: a beautiful naked woman ‘of a certain age’ brutally stabs a young man to death is a practice-led research project that consists of a production staged at Performance Space, Carriageworks, Sydney (November 27th – 29th, 2013) and an exegesis exploring how physical notions of space and the abstract qualities more generally attributed to music (tempi, dynamics, durations) can provide the structural, narrative and aesthetic building blocks of a new theatre work. The project considers how existing structures (vocal expressivity, linear narrative, etc.) limit the understanding and practice of theatre and impact the creation of new work. In asking if a work such as Brief Synopsis could be described as operatic, it reframes that question in terms of what might be described as a composer’s theatre.

The exegesis interrogates the process of creating Brief Synopsis, contemplating precedence in theatre practice history with reference to my own work over past decades, in its elaboration of the methodology intrinsic to my making of a work. It argues a case for alternative strategies (extant and possible) to nineteenth-century models in the creation of a theatre that might be described as both “postdramatic” and “post-operatic”, guided by recent theoretical engagements with contemporary theatre and the concept of ‘musicalization’ (Roesner 2008, Lehmann 2006, Till 2006). Brief Synopsis aims to contribute to research that documents the creative process and in doing so, theories of performance that conceptualise approaches to the theatre medium as an abstract “landscape” in which the body, text, sound, space and character coexist within a visual/spatial construct, blurring the separation between scenario and image, story and style, content and form.