Prof. Ross Brown, BA, FHEA

Job title

Interim Co-Principal

Profile

I am Professor of Sound, have worked as a teacher and researcher at Central since 1994 and have been part of Central’s senior leadership team since 2002.

Previously, I went to art college in Farnham, Newcastle and Wisconsin and worked for a while in the commercial fine art sector and as a record shop manager. I began to work creatively with sound in the mid-1980s. I composed, designed and performed for Red Shift, The Shadow Syndicate, Glasgow Citizens, Shared Experience, Robert Sturua, Elijah Moshinsky, the RSC, Peter Hall Company, and many others. I collaborated in the composition of 23 silent movie scores, performing them live at festivals worldwide and have composed for puppetry, dance and BBC Radio Drama.

I designed and led the UK’s first BA and MA programmes in Theatre Sound Design here at Central between 1994 and 2002. I was also one of a small group of teachers at Central who made the move to refocus their artistic practice as research and submit to the Research Assessment Exercise in 1996. 

I am known for leading the emergence of theatre sound as a new international field of academic enquiry, through key workshops and seminars in Germany, Finland, USA, Canada, the Netherlands and Czech Republic. My teaching and research now focus on the dramaturgy and aesthetics of theatre sound. I presented the third London Theatre Seminar (On Noise, 2003), was a founder member of the TAPRA Scenography working group, and instigated the Theatre Sound Colloquium (National Theatre, 2002-2013). This led to the OISTAT Sound Design Working Group which has helped raise the profile and status of professional theatre sound internationally and prepared the way for an Association of Theatre Sound Designers (facilitated by Central). I convened a major international conference, Theatre Noise, at Central in April 2009, comprising performances, installations, residencies, round-table discussions, presentations and workshops from around the world, with keynotes from the Wooster Group/ERS’s John Collins, the music theatre-maker Heiner Goebbels and Central and the RSC’s legendary voice coach Cicely Berry. Theatre Noise brought together sound scholars and audio professionals from round the world and helped introduce the study of theatre sound and aurality to the growing international transdisciplinary field of sound Studies.

I have advised on sound internationally from the Theatre Academy of Finland to the United States Institute of Theatre Technology. Invited keynotes include: International Centre for Intermedial Research Conference, University of Montreal (2013); Baltic Circle Theatre Festival, Helsinki (2013); School of Sound, South Bank Centre, London (2011). I am currently an international advisor to the University of the Arts, Helsinki.

Courses

Research Degrees (PhD)

Teaching Areas

  • Theatre aurality
  • Theatre sound
  • Scenography

Research Areas

  • The history of sound in theatre (in relation to dramaturgy and scenography)
  • The soundscape as theatre

PhD Supervision

  • Theatre aurality
  • History of sound in theatre

Key Publications

2020. Sound Effect: The Theatre We Hear (London and New York: Methuen Drama).

2016. ‘Bruit pittoresque / Cadres musicaux. La composition pittoresque et mélodramatique du son au théâtre’ in Le Son du Théâtre edited by J.M. Larrue and M.M. Mervant-Roux (Paris: CNRS Éditions), ISBN 978-2-271-09356-1, pp.135 – 162.

2016. ‘Fix Your eyes of the Horizon and Swing Your Ears About: Corwin’s Theatre of Sound’ in Anatomy of Sound: Norman Corwin and Media Authorship, edited by Jacob Smith and Neil Verma (Oakland, University of California Press) pp. 171 – 194.

2016. ‘Changing Technologies of Stage Performance: Sound Design’ in The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare, edited by Bruce R. Smith, (New York City, Cambridge University Press) pp. 1460 – 1467.

2015. ‘On Vibrate: The New Scenographic Picturesque’ in ‘Sounding out ‘the scenographic turn’: eight position statements, edited by Adrian Curtin & David Roesner for Theatre and Performance Design, 1:1-2, pp. 107-25,

2013. ‘The Human Auditorium’ in On Listening, edited by C. Lane and A. Carlyle (Axminster, Uniform Books), pp. 94–99.

2013. ‘The Eleventh of the Eleventh of the Eleventh: The Theatre of Memorial Silence’, in Soundscapes of the Urban Past: Staged Sound as Mediated Cultural Heritage, edited by K. Bijsterveld (Bielefeld, Transcript Verlag), pp. 209-221.

2011. ‘Towards Theatre NoiseTheatre Noise: The Sound of Performance, edited by L. Kendrick and D. Roesner (Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars), pp. 1-14.

2010. ‘Sound Design: the Scenography of Engagement and Distraction’ in Theatre and Performance Design: a Reader in Scenography, edited by J. Collins and A. Nisbett (London: Routledge), pp 340-348.

2010. Sound (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

2009. ‘Noise, Memory, Gesture: the Theatre in a Minute’s Silence’ in Performance, Embodiment & Cultural Memory, edited by R. Mock and C. Counsell, (Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars), pp 203-222.

2006. ‘The Theatre Soundscape and the End of Noise’, Performance Research, 10:4 ‘On Techne’, pp 105-119.

Practice

A summary of the impact of my research on the professional practices and pedagogies of theatre sound can be found in the impact case study submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Recent advisory work includes:

Peer Reviewer, AHRC Interdisciplinary Research Grants;

Specialist advisor to the Department for Education on criteria and specifications for Drama GCSE/A levels (2014);

Pedagogical consultancy for Theatre Academy of Finland (2013);

Academic advisor to Platform7’s ‘Silent Cacophony’ London-wide  programme of performance events on the theme of memorial silence, 11th November 2013; Selection committee for Towards a History of Theatre Sound, International Centre for Intermedial Research conference, University of Montreal, 2013;

Editorial Board for New Soundtrack Journal, Edinburgh University Press (ongoing)

Register of Interest

Nothing to declare.

E-mail

ross.brown@cssd.ac.uk