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Richard Allen in 'The Killers'

Meet the Course Leader - Richard Allen, BA Acting and Performance and BA Contemporary Theatre and Performance

Written by John Wallace
Published date 23 April 2019

Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL is thrilled to announce that Dr Richard Allen has been appointed into the post of Course Leader for our newly validated degree courses BA Acting and Performance and BA Contemporary Theatre and Performance. Richard joins us from the University of Worcester and will formally start his new post on 3 June 2019.

A Wimbledon alumnus, Richard studied MA Theatre: Visual Language of Performance here at the college in 2007 following his undergraduate studies at University of Exeter where he received a First Class Hons for BA Drama. After Wimbledon, he went on to complete his PhD in Performance: Theatre Machines: A practice-based enquiry into the performance of objects at Aberystwyth University in 2014.

Richard Allen's 'House'
Richard Allen's 'House' - Credit: Richard Allen

As well as his research and teaching, Richard has a lifelong involvement in the performing arts as an actor, or devising and making installations, ‘happenings’, and site-based work. As Richard puts it “my work investigates the agency and theatricality of objects through the making of sound installations, performances, films, essays and publications. I make sound and visual works with theatrical props, stage hardware, novelty items, instruments, machines, apparatuses and artefacts that play with how narratives and animations are formed between objects, sounds and spectators.”

Richard’s work has also been presented at the National Review of Live Art (Glasgow), Mayfest (Bristol), Chapter Arts Centre (Cardiff), and Oriel Moystn (Llandudno).

Richard Allen's The Lament of the Noise Makers
Richard Allen's The Lament of the Noise Makers - Credit: Richard Allen

Wimbledon connection

Crediting his study at Wimbledon for shaping his unique career path, Richard says, “The wonderful year I spent here as a student was transformational for my practice and my career and I am delighted and proud to be leading the new Acting and Theatre and Performance courses at this pivotal time in its development.”

“Much of what I learned and developed during my time at Wimbledon has shaped my career as a theatre maker and I can’t wait to bring this back to the new courses and community at the college. I am very excited to be back at Wimbledon.”

But what is it that draws him back at this time?

“I was attracted to the bold and radical new vision for the courses at Wimbledon to become a centre of excellence for performance.”

“The integration of well-established and internationally recognised theatre and performance design courses with new acting and theatre and performance making is incredibly exciting and mirrors my approach to my own research and practice.”

And whilst Richard is quite at home in a theatre, his work is often to be found in disused quarries, seaside diners, ‘at sea’ itself or even in the phone box opposite London College of Communication.

“Theatre and performance has the inescapable seduction of liveness, of being together with others in the same place at the same time, in either physical or virtual space,” says Richard,

“Theatre and performance, like it always has, is expanding the reach for how it engages and immerses audiences in this liveness, consuming and appropriating new technologies and approaches into its unique form of world making. It’s just such an incredibly exciting time to be studying and forming a new practice as a student.”

Read on to find out more about some of Richard Allen's own work.

Richard Allen's 'House'
Richard Allen's 'House' - Credit: Richard Allen

House

House was a sequence of images constructed by a group of performers and a large piles of objects and wall units. The images were built from rules and structures devised by the performers to construct and arrange domestic rooms, scenarios and events. It was devised as part of a residency with Aberystwyth based artist collective Showroom.

Richard Allen's 'Garage Band'
Richard Allen's 'Garage Band' - Credit: Richard Allen

Garage Band

Garage Band is a piece of music theatre set in a suburban garage. As Richard puts it “part memory play, part DIY concert, all for an audience on a driveway.”

Inspired by Tom McCarthy’s novel Remainder (2004), the narrative follows the attempts of a ‘singer’ to reconnect with his memory following a mysterious accident that involved something heavy falling from the sky.

With the substantial payout from the corporation responsible for the accident, he sets about reforming his old band and begins a search for a garage that feels like that from his teenage years. His memory is sketchy, but he recalls tiny details of objects and events that accompanied that time of his life and sets about reconstructing them. He even employs two actors to take on the roles of the ‘drummer’ and the ‘bass player.’

Richard Allen's 'The Killers'
Richard Allen's 'The Killers' - Credit: Paul Blakemore

The Killers

The Killers, not the band, but Richard’s take on the Ernest Hemingway short story set in and around a diner.

This live binaural sound work was recently performed in The Regent seaside diner in Weston-super-Mare. Seated in the diner, the audience wear headphones and watch as the audio is constructed; eavesdropping on conversations; tracking the flight of a wayward fly; hearing in real time the countdown to an assassination.

The Killers is a quiet speculation on how the vinyl booths, coffee counters and cherry pie of British diners carry approximations of American culture, and what happens when you get off the train at the seaside and reach the end of the line.

For more on the Wimbledon’s performance courses visit the course pages for BA Acting and Performance and BA Contemporary Theatre and Performance.