Announcing the return of Nightswimming’s Pure Research program

October 21, 2018 by Jules Phillips

Nightswimming is thrilled to partner with The University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies on the relaunch of Pure Research hosted at the Luella Massey Studio Theatre from October 23 to 25, 2018.

Pure Research is the only performance research of its kind in Canada, providing studio space, money and resources to artists investigating provocative theatrical questions. Designed to foster theatrical experiments that are not specifically linked to the creation of new work, Pure Research has supported 24 research projects – explore them at

Pure Research at the Luella Massey Studio Theatre

This semester, from October 23 to 25, Nightswimming and UofT’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies will host artists and researchers Siobhan Richardson & Jade Elliott McRae with their experiments of action and simulated combat for live and onscreen audiences simultaneously.

Action in Two Media 

Research conducted by Siobhan Richardson & Jade Elliott McRae (Toronto)

Fight Directors and performers Siobhan and Jade are investigating performance strategies to make scenes of action and simulated combat satisfying for a live audience and an onscreen (live-stream) audience simultaneously. Live-streaming of performances is becoming more and more common but faces a major challenge: stage and screen have vastly different requirements in term of acting technique and physical techniques for successful illusions of action and simulated combat. Siobhan and Jade will be exploring ways to choreograph and perform these illusions of simulated action for both medias simultaneously, maintaining complete believability for both audiences. They will be creating fights in various ranges in order to fully explore the boundaries of this art form in each medium.

A brief history about Pure Research

Nightswimming has operated the Pure Research program in Toronto and Vancouver since 2003. Artistic Director Brian Quirt created the program in the mid-1990s while he was the dramaturg at Toronto’s Theatre Centre. At the time, the Theatre Centre ran a program titled R&D, in which space and resources were offered to theatre makers to develop new work. At one point Brian went to the Artistic Director at the time, David Duclos, and said that the name wasn’t accurate. They did a lot of D (development) but virtually no R (research). David challenged Brian to invent a research program, so he did and it ran for a few years at the Theatre Centre. Eventually, as Brian moved on from the Theatre Centre, the program went into hiatus until 2002 when Nightswimming took it over and renamed it Pure Research.

Throughout Pure Research’s history, Nightswimming has been clear that the program is about research and not about developing a new work. Brian’s goal has been to establish an environment in which theatre artists can research a provocative theatrical question that they couldn’t otherwise explore. Since 2003, Pure Research sessions have been conducted at the Theatre Centre, the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts.

Upcoming Pure Research sessions in Calgary

Nightswimming is pleased to conduct Pure Research sessions for the first time at the University of Calgary’s School of Creative & Performing Arts in association with Performing Arts Relay Canada, and Articulating Artistic Research as a part of SYMBIONT, an international artistic research laboratory and symposium featuring artists and scholars from 11 countries. SYMBIONT will take place Nov 12-17, 2018 in Calgary. To learn more please visit

For more information about the program, please contact:

Julie Phillips
Communications & Events Officer

Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies
University of Toronto