Below are some suggestions for possible areas to research, intended to help students with finding essay or dissertation subjects.
Jocelyn Herbert as visual dramaturg
What is a visual dramaturg? How could Herbert’s working processes demonstrate that she was one? Is it possible to see this in her designs?
Jocelyn Herbert as collaborator
Herbert had close working relationships with directors and writers who came to rely on her as a collaborator. Which writers and directors did she work particularly closely with? What effect did this have on their work and on her work?
Contemporary scenographic interpretations of ancient Greek texts
Compare Herbert’s designs for The Oresteiawith late 20thCentury or early 21stCentury designs by other designers of either the same play or another ancient Greek text. What is similar or different about them? Do any of them relate closely to how we believe that the plays would have been staged in ancient Greece? If not has anything been sacrificed in order to stage them differently?
The use of masks in the 1981 The Oresteia was seen as particularly successful. Investigate different kinds of masks (full, half etc) and the ways they are used performatively in traditions and cultures around the world. What theories are there about masks? What kind of mask tradition influenced Herbert’s designs for The Oresteia?
Communicating through costume designs
Who are costume designs created for and how do they communicate appropriately to those people? How is this demonstrated in Herbert’s designs for The Oresteia? Find costume designs by other designers and see how they compare or differ to Herbert? Compare the designs with realised costumes where possible and assess how similar they are, and why they might be different.
How gender and/or class affects the careers and/or practice of theatre designers
Herbert was from a privileged background; how might this have affected her work? How could it have affected what kind of work she accepted? Could it have influenced her practice and style? She was also a woman in a predominantly masculine industry, (she only worked with two female directors in her whole career). How might she have navigated this, and is it possible to trace this in her work for The Oresteia?