Laura Purcell-Gates – Bath Spa University

Personal statement

Laura Purcell-Gates is Reader in Drama and Research Lead for Performing Arts at BSU, and Co-Artistic Director of UK-based puppetry company Wattle and Daub (wattleanddaub.co.uk), through which she conducts practice-based research on puppetry, object performance and non-normative bodies. Recent projects include The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak, a chamber opera for puppets funded by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England, in collaboration with the University of Bristol's medical humanities programme and pathologist Alan Bates, as part of her research into puppetry, monstrosity and the medical humanities.
 
Current projects include a monograph about puppetry and the performance of monstrosity, Objects Without Borders (objectswithoutborders.org) which investigates objects transgressing and forging connections across borders, boundaries and difference, with partners including Seenaryo in Jordan and Dafa Puppet Theatre in the Czech Republic, and a puppetry piece in early development about ageing and disabled bodies.
 
Her writings have been published in journals including Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance (RiDE), Journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, and Popular Entertainment Studies, and books including Migration and Stereotypes in Performance and Culture (Palgrave) and Women and Puppetry: Critical and Historical Investigations (Routledge). 
 
Laura is co-editor of the forthcoming book Race, Gender and Disability in Puppetry and Material Performance (Routledge), the Applied Theatre Research special issue ‘Puppetry: Communities, Identities, Transgressions’ and two special issues of Journal of Applied Arts and Health on applied puppetry. Between 2017-18 she was a steering group member for the AHRC research network Objects with Objectives: Applied Theatre and Puppetry, led by David Grant. She is a founding member of the Arts and Social Change research group at BSU, and a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College.  

Academic qualifications

  • BA Vassar College
  • MTS Harvard University
  • PhD University of Minnesota.

Professional qualifications

  • CPLHE [Bath Spa University]
  • FHEA.

Professional memberships

  • International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR), Performance and Disability working group
  • Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA)
  • American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR, Puppetry and Material Performance working group, Monstrosity and Performance working group.

Teaching specialism

  • Puppetry and object theatre, theatre and performance theory and analysis, performance making.

Research and academic outputs

Go to ResearchSPAce

Race, gender and disability in puppetry
book

Mello, A and Purcell-Gates, L, eds. (2023) Race, gender and disability in puppetry. Routledge, Abingdon. (Forthcoming)


Uncanny affect, performing prosthetics: disability, monstrosity, and the puppet
book_section

Purcell-Gates, L (2022) 'Uncanny affect, performing prosthetics: disability, monstrosity, and the puppet.' In: Chemers, M and Santana, A, eds. Monsters in performance: essays on the aesthetics of disqualification. Routledge, Abingdon. ISBN 9780367635411 (Forthcoming)


Spectacular bodies, unsettling objects: material performance as intervention in stereotypes of refugees
book_section

Purcell-Gates, L (2020) 'Spectacular bodies, unsettling objects: material performance as intervention in stereotypes of refugees.' In: Meerzon, Y, Dean, D and McNeil, D, eds. Migration and stereotypes in performance and culture. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, pp. 39-55. ISBN 9783030399146


The monster and the corpse: puppetry and the uncanniness of gender performance
book_section

Purcell-Gates, L (2019) 'The monster and the corpse: puppetry and the uncanniness of gender performance.' In: Astles, C, Mello, A and Orenstein, C, eds. Women and puppetry: critical and historical investigations. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 19-34. ISBN 9780415787390


Editorial - Applied puppetry in health
article

Astles, C, Fisher, E, Purcell-Gates, L and Sextou, P (2020) 'Editorial - Applied puppetry in health.' Journal of Applied Arts and Health, 11 (1 & 2). pp. 3-13. ISSN 2040-2457


Applied puppetry: communities, identities, transgressions
article

Purcell-Gates, L and Smith, M (2020) 'Applied puppetry: communities, identities, transgressions.' Applied Theatre Research, 8 (1). pp. 3-11. ISSN 2049-3010


Puppetry as reinforcement or rupture of cultural perceptions of the disabled body
article

Purcell-Gates, L and Fisher, E (2017) 'Puppetry as reinforcement or rupture of cultural perceptions of the disabled body.' Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 22 (3). pp. 363-372. ISSN 1470-112X


Puppet bodies: reflections and revisions of marionette movement theories in Philippe Gaulier’s Neutral Mask pedagogy
article

Purcell-Gates, L (2017) 'Puppet bodies: reflections and revisions of marionette movement theories in Philippe Gaulier’s Neutral Mask pedagogy.' Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 8 (1). pp. 46-60. ISSN 1944-3927


Automata and bêtise: contamination anxieties in late nineteenth-century French mime
article

Purcell-Gates, L (2017) 'Automata and bêtise: contamination anxieties in late nineteenth-century French mime.' Popular Entertainment Studies, 8 (1). pp. 21-35. ISSN 1837-9303


‘The terrible things I’ve done’: undisciplined subjectivity of the cyborg within intermedial performance practice
article

Purcell-Gates, L (2016) '‘The terrible things I’ve done’: undisciplined subjectivity of the cyborg within intermedial performance practice.' Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 21 (3). pp. 413-417. ISSN 1470-112X


Locating the self: narratives and practices of authenticity in French clown training
article

Purcell-Gates, L (2011) 'Locating the self: narratives and practices of authenticity in French clown training.' Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 2 (2). pp. 231-242. ISSN 1944-3927


Spectacular bodies, unsettling objects: material performance as intervention in stereotypes of refugees
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2017) Spectacular bodies, unsettling objects: material performance as intervention in stereotypes of refugees. In: Migration/Representation/Stereotypes, 28 - 30 April 2017, University of Ottawa, Canada.


Leaky boundaries: transversing the abject through puppetry performance
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2016) Leaky boundaries: transversing the abject through puppetry performance. In: American Society for Theatre Research Conference 'Trans', 3-6 November 2016, Minneapolis, MN, US.


What world does this body create? Puppetry as intervention in medical approaches to the disabled body
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2016) What world does this body create? Puppetry as intervention in medical approaches to the disabled body. In: Annual American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) Conference: Trans-, 3-6 November 2016, Minneapolis, MN, US.


Staging corpses: disrupting progressive historical narrative through puppetry
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2016) Staging corpses: disrupting progressive historical narrative through puppetry. In: International Federation for Theatre Research Conference Presenting the Theatrical Past: Interplays of Artefacts, Discourses and Practices, 13-17 June 2016, Stockholm University, Sweden.


Puppetry and object theatre as intervention with teenage refugees
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2016) Puppetry and object theatre as intervention with teenage refugees. In: Theatre, Youth, Trauma and Europe in Crisis, 25 June 2016, Bath Spa University, Bath, UK.


The challenge of disciplinary instrumentalism within cross-disciplinary applied theatre research
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2016) The challenge of disciplinary instrumentalism within cross-disciplinary applied theatre research. In: Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference, 5-7 September 2016, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.


‘The history of this monster’: puppetry as intervention in disability stratification
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2014) ‘The history of this monster’: puppetry as intervention in disability stratification. In: International Federation of Theatre Research World Congress 'Theatre and Stratification', 26 July - 2 August 2014, University of Warwick, UK.


Monstrous bodies: using puppetry to engage with perceptions of disability
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2014) Monstrous bodies: using puppetry to engage with perceptions of disability. In: Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference - Dream Acts: Performance as Refuge, Resistance, and Renewal, 24-27 July 2014, Scottsdale, AZ, US.


Performing medical monstrosity: an autopsy of The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2014) Performing medical monstrosity: an autopsy of The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak. In: Performing Science: Dialogues Across Cultures, 24-26 April 2014, University of Lincoln, UK.


Puppetry workshop / Demo and discussion
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2014) Puppetry workshop / Demo and discussion. In: Performing the Freak: a Dialogue Between Theatre and Science About Monstrosity, 29 March 2014 & 13 June 2014, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol, UK.


The monster and the corpse: puppetry and the uncanniness of gender performance
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2013) The monster and the corpse: puppetry and the uncanniness of gender performance. In: Centre for Research into Objects and Puppets in Performance Symposium: Woma/en in Puppet Theatre, 1 November 2013, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London, UK.


Depraved appetites and contamination anxieties: race, gender, and puppet bodies in 19th-century France
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2013) Depraved appetites and contamination anxieties: race, gender, and puppet bodies in 19th-century France. In: Puppet Talk Forum, 15 June 2013, University of Sussex, UK.


Slippage and disorientation in 'The Master and the Margarita'
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2009) Slippage and disorientation in 'The Master and the Margarita'. In: Theatre Noise Conference, 22-24 April 2009, Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, London, UK.


The frozen face: discourses of mechanization in neutral mask training
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2009) The frozen face: discourses of mechanization in neutral mask training. In: Theatre & Performance Research Association, 7-9 September 2009, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK.


Tout bouge: the (re)construction of the body in Lecoq-based performance pedagogy
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2008) Tout bouge: the (re)construction of the body in Lecoq-based performance pedagogy. In: Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference, 3-5 September 2008, University of Leeds.


Pedagogy of proposals: devising as a tactic for individual and group identity reconciliation
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2008) Pedagogy of proposals: devising as a tactic for individual and group identity reconciliation. In: Researching Applied Drama, Theatre and Performance Conference, 2-5 April 2008, University of Exeter.


Critical discourse analysis of the body workshop
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2007) Critical discourse analysis of the body workshop. In: Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO) Conference, 31 May-3 June 2007, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.


A happy mistake: creative collaboration as pedagogical strategy
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2006) A happy mistake: creative collaboration as pedagogical strategy. In: Association for Theatre in Higher Education's (ATHE) Women and Theatre Program Conference, August 2006, Chicago.


Dance of the black Madonna: creating space for female transgression
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2005) Dance of the black Madonna: creating space for female transgression. In: Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Conference, 28-31 July 2005, Weston St Francis, San Francisco.


The un-taming of the shrew: rewriting Shakespeare, reconciling identity
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2005) The un-taming of the shrew: rewriting Shakespeare, reconciling identity. In: Association for Theatre in Higher Education's (ATHE) Women and Theatre Program Conference, 28-31 July 2005, Weston St Francis, San Francisco.


Reflections of Jane: mirror trope as subversive strategy in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper
conference_item

Purcell-Gates, L (2005) Reflections of Jane: mirror trope as subversive strategy in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. In: L'ordre et le chaos/Chaos and Order, March 2005, Universit de Reims Champagne Ardenne Colloque.


Tout bouge [Everything moves]: the (re)construction of the body in Lecoq‐based pedagogy
thesis

Purcell-Gates, L (2011) Tout bouge [Everything moves]: the (re)construction of the body in Lecoq‐based pedagogy. PhD thesis, University of Minnesota.


The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak: puppetry as a practice-based analytic within the medical humanities (2014-2017) [REF2021 collection]
artefact

Purcell-Gates, L (2021) The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak: puppetry as a practice-based analytic within the medical humanities (2014-2017) [REF2021 collection].


The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak
performance

Purcell-Gates, L (2017) The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak. Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol, UK, 25 - 28 January 2017.


The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak: an investigation into puppetry as an analytic to deepen understanding of ethical and historical issues within the medical humanities
performance

Purcell-Gates, L (2015) The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak: an investigation into puppetry as an analytic to deepen understanding of ethical and historical issues within the medical humanities. In: Bristol Festival of Puppetry (2-3 Sep 2015), Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol, 2-3 September 2015, 2-3 November 2015, 25-28 January 2017, 30 January - 18 February 2017, 8-9 March 2017, 10 March 2017.


The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak: A Chamber Opera for Puppets [work in progress]
performance

Purcell-Gates, L (2012) The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak: A Chamber Opera for Puppets [work in progress]. In: Bristol Ferment, Bristol Old Vic, Bristol, UK, May-July 2012.


Triptych
performance

Purcell-Gates, L (2009) Triptych. Touring event, 2009-2011.


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