Posted June 4 2018
Faculty: Creative Industries
Year graduated: 2015
Thesis: Bits and bumps: Understanding gender in contemporary physical comedy (PhD by Creative Works)
Career category: industry
Dr Bridget Boyle co-founded debase productions in 1998 and worked as an actor, director, producer, and a performance skills educator for over a decade before beginning a PhD in 2012.
We asked Dr Boyle to talk about the value of doing a PhD by Creative Works at that stage of her career and the ways in which her research has informed her current creative practice.
Why did you choose to embark upon a PhD in 2012?
“I chose to study a PhD by creative works for a couple of reasons. My creative practice before studying had mainly been as a performer/ devisor.
Most of my directing had been done within the university as a teacher. I wanted to develop and hone my skills as a director, and the PhD was a perfect mechanism for that development. I was also extremely interested in female-driven comedy, particularly physical comedy. QUT’s PhD program allowed me to develop and direct a piece of physical comedy that both advanced my skills as a director and investigate the problematics of women in comedy.”
Could you describe the work you currently do?
“I continue to develop new work for theatre with my company debase productions, as well as work as a freelance performer, director and teacher. At present, debase productions is collaborating with Queensland Theatre (the flagship state theatre company) and JUTE (Queensland’s only professional regional theatre company) to present The Longest Minute, a comic drama about the North Queensland Cowboys Rugby League team that I helped to create and that I’m directing. I recently directed a new opera for children, The Owl and the Pussycat which premiered at Festival 2018 and Flowstate.”
You were awarded your PhD in 2015. How did doing a PhD at QUT inform or shape your current practice or position?
Through the doctoral research process I was able to develop and test ideas around directorial practice that directly inform my current creative work.
Key skills developed through the PhD include techniques for getting the best performance from a wide range of performers and the ability to shape a rehearsal room so that all artists feel relaxed yet challenged. Most importantly, the concept that the director can lead the rehearsal process without being a dictator is one that I developed throughout the PhD project and continue to hone.
Essentially it’s a feminist framework for directing. I’m not sure I’ve reached the ideal balance yet – but that’s life – an ongoing process of improvement!
Could you briefly describe the interests, skills or research questions that are key to work right now?
At the moment, I’m extremely interested in the “ideal rehearsal room” concept I mentioned above. I’m not sure it’s possible, but that’s what I’m striving for! I’m also really interested in collaboration between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists. The Longest Minute has been a great example of what such a collaboration can achieve. I’m looking to develop and extend this.
What is your current career goal?
I would like to take The Longest Minute interstate and possibly develop it for film. I’d also like to write a book extending my doctoral research around women and physical comedy. I collaborate with David Megarrity on a musical comedy duo called the Warmwaters. I’d like to develop and extend this work – again possibly on film. Lots of goals!
What is the most valuable piece of advice you would you give to someone who is close to completing or has just completed their PhD at QUT?
KEEP GOING (if you’re almost done). And ENJOY THE REST (if you’ve completed!). Also don’t wait too long to try to publish/ present the findings from your research.
PhD alumni, experienced academics and researchers emphasise the importance of publishing from your PhD. QUT has numerous resources that can help you build your publications: