Pure Research

There are few places in Canada where in-depth theatrical research can be explored without the pressure of developing or performing a new work. Nightswimming’s unique Pure Research program provides space, money and resources to artists who are pursuing provocative theatrical questions.

Over the decade we have held 24 Pure Research explorations. From 2011-13, in addition to our Toronto projects, we have conducted sessions in Vancouver in association with D.D. Kugler and Simon Fraser University’s Contemporary Arts.

The Pure Research workshop was a landmark: its insights and discoveries flowed back into my critical thinking and practical work, and has been passed onto many artists, interns and workshops participants.

– Ruth Howard

Pure Research is designed to foster theatrical experiments that are not specifically linked to the creation of new work. In the spirit of inquiry, we want artists to tell us what you don’t know and how you might be able to answer your questions through a Pure Research workshop.

What does that mean? If you have a theatrical question, and can pose it in terms of an experiment, then we’re interested. We supply studio space for up to three days, a fee for the lead researcher and a modest budget for artists and materials.

Knowledge garnered through the free play approach used in Pure Research eventually led to a breakthrough in creative and technical roadblocks that had long stymied me, and opened up for me a broad range of new expressive possibilities.

– Laurel MacDonald

Pure Research sessions are conducted at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and SFU Contemporary Arts in Vancouver. All projects are documented and the results are posted on our website. Researchers are required to submit a full report within one month of completing their experiment. Nightswimming staff is present to observe and offer assistance.

You can read final reports on each research project on this page. For more in-depth information on research conducted through this program, please visit our Pure Research website for an archive of the projects and interviews with many of the researchers on the impact this work has had on their artistic practice.