Oliver Bray

The current practices of Dr Oliver Bray, academic and performance maker


Ursonate Post-truth

A re-performance of Kurt Schwitters' seminal piece of sound poetry, Ursonate. In this new imagining, the Ursonate is interlaced with contemporary examples of post-truth oratory, including the speeches of Trump, May, and Putin.

Dr Oliver Bray is the Head of Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett University. He is also a Live Artist and Performance Maker based in Leeds.

Of This Room - brand new performance, every time.

He enters the space and reads it. He reads you. Then he makes a performance happen. This performance will never be repeated because it is entirely dictated by the room and the people in the room. The performer will respond to everything that happens in the room using a complex set of (in)visible formulae and constraints. Somewhere in between winging it and trusting in fate, this performance relies entirely on the live-constructed moment and the decisions made when a performer is faced with a room of people watching, waiting, expecting. This work is the final instalment of Oliver Bray’s infatuation with the OuLiPo (the Workshop of Potential Literature) – and this time, it’s got risky.

Playing with Constraint: Performing the OuLiPo and the clinamen-performer (Article, Performance Research)

Approaching a rare example of constraining literature written for performance, this article introduces the ‘clinamen-performer’, a term used to describe the unpredictable and playful behaviours of the performer under constraint. The OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) (Workshop for Potential Literature) have been using imposed structural constraints to generate new writing since the 1960s. Following an introduction to the group, this article reflects on the performance of Oulipian Georges Perec’s radio play The Machine by contemporary theatre company Third Angel. The Machine reads as a ‘how to’ of oulipian constraint, and while rule-based structures are well known within contemporary theatre, the specifically analytical and granular devices within this particular radio play present a rare opportunity to understand the effects of constraint on the live performer. The various structures of the text encourage the clinamen-performer to enjoy a game structure at its most liberatingly constrained. The performer simultaneously adheres to the various protocols of the text and the invisible, formal expectations of theatre. The clinamen-performer may dive in and out of the rules and flexibly play with the nuances of delivery, pitch, dialogism and irony, by participating in a competition that offers no obvious prize. Whereas the clinamen represents for the Oulipo an acceptable, usually aesthetically inclined rule-break, as a live performer it represents the recognition of being the conduit between the text and the audience—the ineffable vessel of meaning-making. tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13528165.2016.1192866

Voicing Trauma and Truth: Narratives of Disruption and Transformation (Edited Book)

An interdisciplinary approach to current research in trauma studies, offering dynamic and valuable personal and collective voices. This volume brings together a worldwide array of phenomena and research programmes associated with working with trauma. Wide-ranging in content, it truly represents the interdisciplinary nature of current research, providing dynamic and valuable crossovers between differing research practices. presented to provide different perspectives of the experience of trauma: the personal; the subjective/objective; and the collective. Edited by Oliver Bray & Peter Bray. amazon.co.uk/Voicing-Trauma-Truth-Narratives-Transformation/dp/1848881983/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1541521050&sr=8-1&keywords=voicing+trauma+and+truth

The Elision of Scaff’

Scaff' struggles to come to terms with his life, he is preoccupied, distracted and perpetually in a state of astonishment...his task is made more difficult by the fact that there are three of everything, including him. “It's a nursery where we force cylinders into square holes and cubes into round ones while our parents and proctors aren't looking. Does it work? Depends on the day.” -Francois Caradec. This new work is inspired by the literary constraints of the French writing group OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle, or Workshop of Potential Literature). The performance has been generated through the indiscriminate and unapologetic application of constraint after constraint after constraint after constraint.....etc.....etc.....etc

Georges Perec’s The Machine - Third Angel.

Oliver Bray performs in and co-directs Perec’s innovative and mischievous 1968 radio play, the first time this remarkable piece has been performed in English Performed at Off the Shelf Festival, Sheffield, the Gateshead International Theatre Festival, Gateshead, and the Crucible Studio, Sheffield. - photo credit, Clive Eggington

The Speech Maker - durational performance.

The Speech Maker offers an opportunity for the people of a city to get on their soapboxes… without having to actually get on their soapboxes. The Speech Maker borrows the words of the people that have shaped our history and fits them seamlessly with the voices that represent our city. This durational work is a testament to ‘telling people what you think’, it is a snap-shot of a city’s aspirations, dreams, fantasies, failures and frustrations. The Speech Maker is truly participatory. Watch him deliver his rhetoric and, through the seamless beauty of technology, put words in his mouth – contribute your own gripes, celebratory messages, political manifestos – all contributions will be threaded live through The Speech Maker’s 12hrs of non-stop speech – put words in his mouth. Performed at the Compass Festival of Live Art, Leeds, and the Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Romania.


A solo performance work that is based around a Russian family’s tragic story of loss, Villa is as much about idiotic British naivety as it is pseudo-philosophical wordplay and Chekhov. Some of you will be implicated, directly. Some of you will enjoy the story, a bit. Some of you will be amused, at it. But know this – I’m on my own, my suit is sharp and someone is going to have to sit in those chairs. One can only kill starlings for so long. A foray into Eastern Europe that subtly upsets those narrative conventions that we pretend not to be so desperate for. This work, which tastes a little of Chekhov, smells like a Beckett rip-off and stinks, actually, of empire-building naivety, acknowledges the refusal of any mind not to get it. We’ve never been the manifesto-writing island, and so – perhaps a trip to Russia is in order.

Droppin' Shoppin' - Until Thursday Theatre Company Performance.

Droppin' (v) To demonstrate wisdom or skill. "I'm droppin' science" (Coolin' in Cali, 1988) Droppin' Shoppin' isolates the richest qualities of two non-theatre source materials - Hip Hop and Channel Shopping, and strips them to their barest performative components. Hip Hop becomes a drum-kit and a microphone, channel shopping becomes a sofa and a smile. Hints at creative manifestos, friendly engagement and black culture may seduce the viewer into seemingly understanding this unnerving world, before repelling them with the disjointed reality of two middle class white boys telling the fake why they can't create. Coz this is what it's about, come on...

T.Hanks - dance performance work.

T.Hanks is collaboration with Rachel Krische. This performance is about those people that we regard above all others. Those people who touch us. Educate us. Those that bring us to a new realisation of truth an beauty. They are the most important people in the whole world. Who are they? They are... Movie Stars. Thank you, thank you all so much First performed at the B-Motion festival in Bassano, Italy.