University of Nottingham

Performing Geographies Toolkit

1. Why performance?

Mike explains how performance can function as both an innovative mode of enquiry and a research output, enabling the integration of academic  and professional research procedures. In relation to work on landscape and environment, performance can illuminate the historically and culturally diverse ways in which a particular landscape has been made, used, reused and interpreted; and help make sense of the multiplicity of meanings that resonate from it.

Workshop participants study an historic map Workshop participants study an historic map

2. Why solo performance?

Mike often works as a solo performer. In the document below he outlines how solo performance can draw together narratives, data sets and disciplinary perceptions, and explains that solo performance permits the use of the biographical as a framing and structuring device: the performer, as both narrator and the subject of narration. He also reflects on the process of writing performance work.


3. Exercises


4. Some approaches to research

Mike outlines a range of approaches or research methodologies that can be used in the field and elsewhere including questioning, interviewing, walking, and archival research.


5. An attempt at dramaturgy

Warplands was commissioned as a contribution to the Landscape and Environment Programme Director’s Impact Fellowship by Professor Steve Daniels and designed to enhance the reach and significance of the Landscape and Environment programme. Download the document below to read more about the background to the making of Warplands or listen to the recorded interview with Mike Pearson and John Hardy reflecting on the research process and performance. 


Toolkit rationale

This toolkit is an attempt to make available some of the techniques used in creating Warplands with the hope of inspiring other works, by others, in other contexts.

John Hardy in Julian's Bower John Hardy in Julian's Bower 
Workshop participants discuss their reactions to Warplands in Alkborough Chapel Workshop participants discuss their reactions to Warplands in Alkborough Chapel 



The bibliography below provides a list of further reading and related performances by Mike Pearson:



  • Pearson, M. 1995 'From Memory: or other ways of telling', New Welsh Review, 30, 77-93. 
  • Pearson, M. 1996 'The Dream in the Desert', Performance Research 1,1, 5-15.
  • Pearson, M. 2001 'You can't tell by looking', Performance Research, 6, 2 (On Maps and Mapping), 31-38.
  • Pearson, M. 2000 'Bubbling Tom' in ed A. Heathfield Small Acts: Performance, the Millennium and the Marking of Time, London, Black Dog Publishing, 172-85.
  • Pearson, M. 2006 In Comes I: Performance, Memory and Landscape, Exeter, University of Exeter Press.
  • Pearson, M. 2010 Site-Specific Performance, Basingstoke, Palgrave.
  • Pearson, M. 2011 'Deserted places, remote voices: performing landscape' in Envisioning Landscapes: Geography and the Humanities eds. S. Daniels et al, Abingdon & New York, Routledge/Association of American Geographers, 280-6.
  • Pearson, M. and Shanks, M. 1997 'Performing a visit: archaeologies of the contemporary past', Performance Research, 2, 2 (On Tourism), 47-53
  • Pearson, M. and Shanks, M. 2001 Theatre/Archaeology London, Routledge.



  • Pearson, M. and Hardy, J. 2006 Carrlands. Three-hour, web-based audio-work
  • Pearson, M. and Hardy, J. 2008 Winter. One-hour audio-work/walk commissioned by Groeneveld Forum, Netherlands
  • Pearson, M and Hardy, J. 2011 Warplands. 51-minute live performance







Landscape and Environment Programme

School of Geography
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 84 66071