Dr Asher Warren is investigating how theatre, as an artform and cultural activity, is experienced in an age when our eyes are bombarded by screens and digital media.
Asher Warren’s research is demonstrating how theatre can adapt to engage with contemporary audiences, and the ways that we can innovate with the form to create new kinds of performance.
“I want to explore how theatre can offer us new ways to think about our digital connectedness: of social networks, surveillance, big data and global culture.”
Dr Warren believes that making and watching theatre – being in a shared space and time – connects us with place and each other.
“A big part of my recent research is examining the way that making and watching theatre helps build a sense of identity and community for everyone involved,” he said.
It was during a University workshop by lighting designer, Paul Jackson, that Dr Warren’s interest in photography and filmmaking suddenly shifted to the theatre, and the “live moment”.
“I remember he spoke about how during the 1990s, the Melbourne CBD was deliberately transformed with a new lighting design: all the yellow streetlights were replaced by more modern blue and white lighting.
“This shift in scale – from a set or theatre to a whole city – was profound.”
Dr Warren’s research is multileveled. He looks critically at theatre happening now, and examines what these productions tell us about ourselves, our culture and our values. “This work helps express the value of theatre, and shapes our understanding of the importance of the arts as part of our lives.”
He also explores the future of theatre and performance, and celebrates innovative work. “My work is continually imagining how we keep theatre relevant for new audiences, and make classic texts speak meaningfully to our current times”.
“Through my teaching, practice, and research, I am driving the creation of new and exciting work and developing new audiences.”
Several years ago, Dr Warren wrote a paper about ‘sneaky feelings’ in the theatre, which captured a number of his research ideas.
“The way that certain events in the theatre can take us out of the moment, where the world that we are trying to be in breaks … (and) how we silently all work so hard as audiences, to support theatre makers by suspending our disbelief. We actually have an incredible investment in the theatre, which is why sneaky feelings are so challenging.”
Dr Warren’s teaching is centered around empowerment and self-discovery. “I am deeply interested in what students have to say, and then stimulating their curiosity and creativity to explore those interests.”
“I don’t see my job as transferring my ideas, but rather, as giving students the tools, motivation and opportunity to generate their own.”
Dr Warren is inspired by creativity and the way theatre can create worlds or take the smallest moment – a look, a gesture, a single line – and fill it with meaning.
“I love seeing what my students create in the rehearsal room and on stage, and when they connect big ideas through their performances. There's nothing more exciting than watching a performance that catches you by surprise, and takes you somewhere you never expected to go.”
Dr Warren is a member of Performance Studies international (PSi), the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR) and the IFTR Intermediality Working group. He has also been a member of the PSi Future Advisory Board from 2017-2020 and has recently been appointed as associate editor for the international journal Performance Research.
Dr Asher Warren is Head of Theatre and Performance and Lecturer in Theatre and Performance at the School of Creative Arts and Media in the College of Arts, Law and Education. His teaching and research focus on theatrical innovation—exploring the possibilities of new and diverse ways of developing, performing and experiencing theatre in the 21st century, through experimental and intermedial performance and unique forms of participatory and experiential experience. He is interested in how theatre speaks to contemporary audiences, and how theatrical traditions are adapted and expanded through networked culture.
Asher teaches Theatre and Performance at the University of Tasmania, moving in 2018 to Launceston to be based at the Annexe Theatre in Inveresk. Asher completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Hons) and a PhD at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Asher’s research interests have been broadly shaped by the intersections of theatre and performance with new media and technologies – from student theatre experimental works exploring the technical capacities of sound and light and audience participation, to investigations into the theatricality of online social networks. His doctoral research expanded on these themes, to examine a wave of innovative, technologically mediated performances by Australian artists and companies through the beginning of the 21st Century. Emergent in this project was Asher’s interest in the capacity for audience interaction and participation, and a close focus on the contributions and reactions from participants, and the implications of regarding participants as co-creators.
Asher served as a member of the Performance Studies International Future Advisory Board (FAB) from 2016-2020, and convened the cross-institutional group Performance Studies Melbourne from 2016-2018. Asher is also a Member of PSi, ITFR and ADSA, and has been a member of the IFTR Intermediality Working Group since 2015.
Awkward Moments and Optional Electric Shocks:
University of Melbourne
BCA (1st Class Honours)
|Honours thesis, ‘Reading the Facebook: The Theatricality of Online Social Networking’|
University of Melbourne
Performance Studies international (PSi)
PSi Future Advisory Board (FAB)
Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies (ADSA)
International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR)
IFTR Intermediality Working Group
Theatre, Performance, Contemporary Art, Plays, Drama, Intermediality, Politics, Technology, Dramaturgy, New-media, Performance Art, Live Art, Participation, Interaction, Site-specific Art, Digital Theatre, Devised Theatre, Distributed Performance,
Asher is the Unit Co-ordinator for:
The Theatre Machine - https://www.utas.edu.au/units/fpb132
Playing Text - https://www.utas.edu.au/units/fpb236
Global Media and Cybertheatres (available in 2021)
Asher also teaches broadly across Units within the Theatre and Performance major in the Bachelor of Arts - www.utas.edu.au/courses/13A
Power and Performance: Revaluing Theatre in the 21st Century - Symposium (Murdoch University)
Cultural Value in the Regions - Symposium (University of Tasmania / QVMAG Launceston)
Theatre and Drama
Intermedial Art and Performance
Live Art and Performance Art
Arts Audiences, Participation and Interaction
Asher’s research aligns to the Universities theme of Creativity, Culture and Society, connecting practices of making and experiencing performance, and the larger cultural and social contexts these performances take place in, and are responsive to.
Asher’s research into intermedial, distributed and networked theatre and performance has drawn attention to the varied ways that performance might move out of the theatre and into new sites, creating opportunities for interactive and participatory forms of theatre, but also observing how these practices draw attention to audience behaviours and assumptions, and even highlight emergent inequalities regarding access to and familiarity with digital technologies.
Central to Asher’s research is the question of how the performing arts interact and engage with contemporary life and culture, exploring how canonical theatrical texts and performances might relate to audiences now, and how our experiences of life in the 21st century is explored, examined and critiqued through performance.
Since moving to Launceston, and becoming involved in Tasmania’s unique performing arts ecology, Asher’s interest in participation has led his focus to Tasmania’s remarkable community-based theatre scene, and the distinct sense of identity built amongst local theatre groups. Building on this community passion for performance, his recent research projects have explored place-based storytelling and creativity, addressing barriers to participation in the performing arts, the influence of global trends on unique local practices of making and watching theatre.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, Asher has been involved in the Panopticon project, led by John Vella, to develop large-scale student led performance art projects presented in collaboration with the Dark MOFO festival. This project exposed students to inter-disciplinary exploration and collaboration across the School of Creative Arts and Media, and the opportunity to showcase their work to an audience of thousands. The project was an innovative approach to the process of teaching and learning in the creative arts, and participants and audiences were surveyed to evaluate and reflect on the pedagogical implications of this approach. Link: https://www.utas.edu.au/creative-arts-media/events/panopticon
Asher is currently leading a community engaged research project, Living Room Musicals, developing a do-it-yourself toolkit to encourage enthusiasts across Tasmania to tell their own, place-based stories, engaging with the social and cultural wealth of the Island, and providing a platform to showcase the resourcefulness and creativity of community participants.
Living Room Musicals intends to build meaningful relationships between the Theatre program at the University of Tasmania, community theatre groups, and enthusiasts in and beyond the Northern hub of Launceston and facilitate authentic expressions of locally relevant stories. The archive will be a valuable expression of culture, and a productive resource for further study. Project and CAM Research Page: https://www.utas.edu.au/creative-arts-media/research
Fields of Research
- Drama, theatre and performance studies (360403)
- Art criticism (360101)
- Fine arts (360602)
- The performing arts (130104)
- The creative arts (130103)
- Music (130102)
Highlighted publications(4 outputs)
|2019||Journal Article||Warren A, 'Our Town: local politics, community theatre and power', Performance Research, 24, (8) pp. 12-19. ISSN 1352-8165 (2019) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Web of Science - 1
|2018||Chapter in Book||Warren A, 'Weaponized Bureaucracy: Kill-Chains, Drones, and Tethers', Performance in a Militarized Culture, Routledge, S Brady and L Mantoan (ed), New York, pp. 288-303. ISBN 9781138690189 (2018) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2018||Journal Article||Warren A, 'Can't or won't: sneaky feelings in the theatre', Performance Paradigm, 14 pp. 87-107. ISSN 1832-5580 (2018) [Refereed Article]|
|2017||Journal Article||Warren A, 'Dispensing with the Law: Measuring alcohol and its effects in Shower Party', Performance Research, 22, (6) pp. 13-19. ISSN 1352-8165 (2017) [Refereed Article]|
Journal Article(11 outputs)
|2021||Esling N, Kimmel AJ, Sharifi A, Warren A, 'Diffracted readings of the future: practices of differentiation-entanglement'', Performance Research, 25, (5) pp. 10-16. ISSN 1352-8165 (2021) [Refereed Article]|
|2021||Warren W, Woollard J, 'Passionate, not parochial: local theatre in Launceston', Australasian Drama Studies, (77) pp. 20-55. ISSN 0810-4123 (2021) [Refereed Article]|
Co-authors: Woollard J
|2019||Cervera F, Chua S, Demetriou Y, Jeong A, Laine E, et al., 'Orientations: where is the future now?', (2.2) ISSN 2574-027X (2019) [Edited Journal]|
|2019||Warren A, 'Dirty Work', NiTRO, (15 November) (2019) [Professional, Refereed Article]|
|2019||Warren A, 'Our Town: local politics, community theatre and power', Performance Research, 24, (8) pp. 12-19. ISSN 1352-8165 (2019) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Web of Science - 1
|2019||Warren AD, 'Mixed actor network reality: a performance in three networks', Australasian Drama Studies, (65) pp. 191-211. ISSN 0810-4123 (2019) [Refereed Article]|
|2018||Warren A, 'Virtual perspective: the aesthetic lineages of immersive experience', Refractory, 30 pp. 1-16. ISSN 1447-4905 (2018) [Refereed Article]|
|2018||Warren A, 'Divisive dramaturgy: community engagement in contemporary mediated publics', Australasian Drama Studies, (72) pp. 204-237. ISSN 0810-4123 (2018) [Refereed Article]|
|2018||Warren A, 'Can't or won't: sneaky feelings in the theatre', Performance Paradigm, 14 pp. 87-107. ISSN 1832-5580 (2018) [Refereed Article]|
|2017||Warren A, 'Dispensing with the Law: Measuring alcohol and its effects in Shower Party', Performance Research, 22, (6) pp. 13-19. ISSN 1352-8165 (2017) [Refereed Article]|
|2014||Warren A, 'Responding to rupture: kids killing kids', Performance Research: A Journal of Performing Arts, 19, (6) pp. 71-77. ISSN 1352-8165 (2014) [Refereed Article]|
Chapter in Book(3 outputs)
|2021||Warren A, 'The Glitch, The Diva, and Coming back out: Aging and Postdigital Identity', Avatars, Activism and Postdigital Performance: Precarious Intermedial Identities, Bloomsbury, L Jarvis and K Savage (ed), USA ISBN 9781350159310 (2021) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2018||Warren A, 'Weaponized Bureaucracy: Kill-Chains, Drones, and Tethers', Performance in a Militarized Culture, Routledge, S Brady and L Mantoan (ed), New York, pp. 288-303. ISBN 9781138690189 (2018) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2015||Warren A, 'Knowledge, Movement, Technologies', White Night: City as Event, Research Unit in Public Cultures, The University of Melbourne, D Butt (ed), Melbourne, Australia, pp. 45-50. ISBN 978 0 7340 5179 0 (2015) [Other Book Chapter]|
|2019||Warren AD, 'Births, deaths and rituals: a revamped Ten Days on the Island explores Tasmania's past and present', The Conversation, (19 March) (2019) [Review Several Works]|
|2018||Warren A, 'Bree Hadly, Theatre, Social Media ,and Meaning Making (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)', Australasian Drama Studies, (72) pp. 265-271. ISSN 0810-4123 (2018) [Review Single Work]|
Other Public Output(4 outputs)
|2021||Warren A, 'Without visiting headliners, can local artists save our festivals?', The Conversation, Australia, 22 February (2021) [Newspaper Article]|
|2021||Warren A, 'Radio Interview', ABC Radio Sydney Breakfast, Australia, 24 February (2021) [Media Interview]|
|2018||Warren A, 'Going Down finds hilarious satire in migrant identity', The Conversation, The Conversation Media Group Ltd, Australia, 14 May 2018 (2018) [Magazine Article]|
|2018||Warren A, 'The Unconformity festival embraces the power and peculiarity of Tasmania's wild west', The Conversation, The Conversation Media Group, Parkville, VIC, 2 November (2018) [Magazine Article]|
Grants & Funding
Number of grants
- This project aims to harness the passion for musical theatre in the North of Tasmania, and direct it toward telling place-based stories by engaging the skills and creativity of community participants, as well as emerging Tasmanian composers and songwriters to develop musicals that are performed in domestic settings that celebrate local stories and culture and contribute to a storytelling archive.
- Tasmanian Community Fund ($19,959)
- Administered By
- University of Tasmania
- Research Team
- Warren AD
- PanopticonII and Dark [Other]Times will facilitate the design, development and delivery of a suite of new works, through diversemedia and modes of collaboration. PanopticonII and Dark [Other]Times will generate new concepts, methodologies and understandings, through a series of new major, creative works. These works will engage broad territories of time, violence and friction whilst being sensitively attuned to site and massive audience engagement.
- Dark Lab Pty Ltd ($15,000)
- Contract Research
- Administered By
- University of Tasmania
- Research Team
- Vella JM; Warren AD
|PhD||Geodramatic Territories: Devising Jacques Lecoq's Psychic Space/Time through Critical Spatial Practice||2019|
|PhD||You Can't Tick a Box Marked Profundity: Examining the social value of the arts||2019|
|PhD||The Art of Re-entry: Roles and impacts of experimental Art for people convicted of crime||2019|