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Simon Breden

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

In the past few years I have combined a career in higher education with professional theatre practice, working in Madrid, Spain. I read English & Spanish at the University of Oxford and went on to obtain a PhD in contemporary theatre practice on the Spanish stage from Queen Mary, University of London, I went on to teach in Spain and direct for a theatre company specialising in Golden Age drama. My research into theatre looks into how Golden Age drama is staged and reinterpreted for a modern audience. I am also very interested in how contemporary drama responds to its social conditions of production, and my current research examines how playwrights, directors and companies are responding to the global economic crisis.

Teaching Summary

I am currently teaching translation from Spanish into English, an opportunity for final year students returning from their year abroad to hone their language skills. I am also teaching Advanced… read more

Research Summary

My research into Spanish theatre examines theatrical rehearsal as an artistic process. The analysis of rehearsal processes in theatre studies is a relatively new field. It focuses on an analysis of… read more

I am currently teaching translation from Spanish into English, an opportunity for final year students returning from their year abroad to hone their language skills. I am also teaching Advanced Spanish Translation, which deals with literary and essayistic texts. Finally, I will be teaching a new final-year module, Spanish Theatre & Society, based on my research into the subject. We will be looking at key moments in which Spanish theatre has responded to the social and political climate of the time.The aim is to understand the role of playwrights and theatre practitioners within society and the strategies deployed to comment on the prevalent social conditions under which particular plays or performances take place. We will not just look at play texts, but also consider how to read performance and deal with the 'liveness' of theatre and the two-way process of actor-audience communication.

In the second semester, I will be lecturing and leading seminars on the legend of Don Juan in Spanish theatre, looking at the sources of the myth, the character's first appearances on the Golden Age stage in El burlador de Sevilla, moving forward to Zorrilla's Don Juan Tenorio. On the way, we will look at other Spanish and international interpretations of the myth, trying to understand why Don Juan is so universally seductive and such a recurrent figure in Spanish literature.

Support and feedback hours for Dr. Breden: Trent B35.7

Semester 1: Monday 10.00-11.00 / Friday 10.00-11.00

Semester 2: Monday 13.00-14.00 / Thursday 11.00-12.00

Current Research

My research into Spanish theatre examines theatrical rehearsal as an artistic process. The analysis of rehearsal processes in theatre studies is a relatively new field. It focuses on an analysis of how artistic creativity evolves through active discovery in performance preparation; by delving into how inspiration and intuitive response shape a theatrical piece, we can obtain an understanding of its artistic value. My doctoral work, published, as The Creative Process of Els Joglars and Teatro de la Abadía (2014), focused on the rehearsal processes of two Spanish companies who place strong creative emphasis on how they work rather than simply the polished final production, going so far as to explore the theatrical processes in their productions. That study established a methodology for examining theatre companies in rehearsal, and for identifying how particular approaches have direct and quantifiable results on performance. However, much work remains to be done in this field; this project will extend my own earlier work in order to clarify why practitioners who focus on the creative process as an artistic entity in itself generate performances of a more experiential nature for their audiences. The intention is, in particular, to examine the emotional and intellectual impact of politically engaged messages.

My study looks closely at socially critical work from early 21st-century in Spain, primarily Madrid, examining through particular case studies how practitioners have responded to the social difficulties of the economic crisis and resulting recession, over-layering their performances with critical messages. This project will bring critical innovations in Drama and Performance Studies to bear upon Spanish theatrical research and practice at a time of intense critical reflection upon the European economic and social crisis.

Artists such as Sanzol, Mayorga, La Zaranda, La Cubana, Rodrigo García and Miguel del Arco have deployed specific strategies to convey their stance on social issues and engage their audiences via an emotionally and intellectually experiential connection. This study proposes to identify exactly how these practitioners work in rehearsal in order to articulate a theatre of discontent that privileges audience experience. Furthermore, in offering a series of case studies, the research will not only identify national and international responses to the crisis that have influenced these practitioners, but also situate Spain on the world stage and demonstrate how unique theatrical languages have been generated which are relevant to students of socially engaged theatre and theatre practice around the globe.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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