One day I hope to develop a piece of verbatim theatre based on my own research.
Annayah Prosser is studying MRes Sustainable Futures at the University of Bath and has been selected as an Arts Scholar for 2018-19. Annayah shares her experience in performing, her passion for theatre as a means to educate as well as entertain, and the collaborations she has been working on ahead of Platform, the annual scholarship showcase.
What is your background in your chosen art form?
I first got involved with drama as a way to escape myself, and understand the lives of others. I enjoy using performance as a way to communicate wider societal issues on a personal level.
I have been acting for over a decade, during which time I have played a variety of characters in many different genres of performance. During my undergraduate degree, I was an active member of the theatre society here at Bath. As well as sitting on the committee, I participated in 13 performances – 7 of which I also produced. I have played a wide range of roles, from Juliet in the Bath Drama RSC Open Stages performance, to a supernatural detective in the award-winning student radio drama ‘Crowe’, as well as my personal favourite character: Nic in Harold Pinter’s ‘One for the Road’.
What are you working on ahead of Platform?
For Platform, I’m working with Florence on a section of Zinnie Harris’s ‘Meet Me at Dawn’- a modern, surreal retelling of the Orpheus and Eurdice myth. We are working closely with the text, focusing on characterisation and soundscapes, but also introducing a physical theatre element to further abstract the piece. We’ve used Leah’s photos to inspire the characterisation of the couple, and the distances between them at different parts of the piece.
If you are collaborating with other students tell us a bit about the process and how it’s going?
I’m working with Florence on the performance, and have worked with photography scholar Leah for the inspiration/original stimulus. Leah’s photography is incredible, and being able to convey the emotions she holds in her photos on stage in performance is a great challenge, and privilege!
I’m really enjoying the opportunity to work with other scholars at the university. I am mostly involved with Bath University Student Theatre Society, and Florence is with Bath University Student Musicals Theatre Society so it’s great to have a collaboration between us, as we both bring something different to the table.
Do you find any links between your creativity and your course?
Yes, in my PhD I’m working on the moral and social psychology of pro-environmental behaviour. Much of my research examines groups, and the relational tensions between people who do practice environmental behaviours and those who don’t. I work with qualitative transcripts of group interactions, and analyse them in a way very similar to how I would analyse a play before performing it! I’m interested in the capacity of the arts to convey information emotionally, and whether, as a vehicle it can be more successful for social change and education than traditional techniques such as lectures. I hope to combine my artistic and academic interests by examining these issues further, and one day I hope to develop a piece of verbatim theatre based on my own research.
What/Who inspires, influences or drives you?
I’m most inspired by theatre when it teaches me something new about myself and other people. The performances I’ve been most impressed by, are ones that have helped me to see the world, other people or an issue, in a completely different way. I subscribe to the view that really good theatre isn’t just entertainment, but education. For those reasons, I’ve personally been inspired by the political drama work of writers such as Harold Pinter and Lucy Prebble, as well as the work of companies such as Action to the Word, Kneehigh and Headlong.