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4th June 2014, 8:49am
Prestigious research prize awarded for study of theatrical travels
Dr Claire Warden receives the Anthony Denning Award A specialist in modernist theatre and performance from the University of Lincoln, UK, has been awarded a prestigious prize by the Society for Theatre Research.

The Anthony Denning Award is presented annually to support new projects exploring uncharted research areas. The 2014 accolade was awarded to Dr Claire Warden, Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln’s School of Performing Arts, in recognition of her study exploring the links between British and Russian theatre.

Throughout the early twentieth century, improved infrastructure across Europe enabled an increased movement of written materials such as literary texts and performance scripts, and of artists to overseas territories to experience foreign practices and experimental performance methods.

Dr Warden’s new research project, which will culminate in the publication of a book by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016, explores this movement and the resulting influences on British theatre throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

Dr Warden said: “During the post-war era, a great number of British writers, dramatists and artists visited Russia on something of a fact-finding mission to discover what was really taking place in the post-revolutionary country. The British visitors to Russia spanned the entire political spectrum, with some being highly sympathetic towards the Bolshevik uprising and others being staunchly against it, which makes the influences of travel on their work even more fascinating.

“Throughout this period, Russian theatre was much more experimental than performance was here in the UK. This study aims to identify individual moments of Russian influence on marginal British theatre, which together create an extraordinary narrative of transnational impact. By writing this book, I hope to resurrect the travels and experiences of our theatrical ancestors.”

Dr Warden has already had a number of papers published in this area; most notably on British theatre producer Basil Dean’s Salute to the Red Army. Following his visit to Russia in the 1920s, his 1943 production at London’s Royal Albert Hall combined British pageantry with Russian experimentation, celebrated the exploits of Britain’s Russian allies and encouraged greater solidarity between the two countries. Dr Warden’s work explores this production as emblematic of an ongoing artistic dialogue between the countries, and of Britain’s continued fascination with Russia and its theatre.

The award from the Society for Theatre Research, which was founded in 1948 with an aim to bring together those interested in the history and technique of the British theatre and encourage research into these areas, provides funding to enable Dr Warden to further her research.

With the award, she hopes to pursue a research trip to Russia and fund illustration work to accompany her findings.

Dr Warden’s book, entitled Migratory Modernists: British Theatrical Travels through Russia, is due for publication by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016.

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