Oliver Bray


The Speech Maker: Leeds & Romania - durational performance with Mark Flisher. 

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.

Watch video here...


Artists Discuss - Until Thursday Theatre Company Performance.

Established contemporary artists Timothy Ice and Jason Queen talk openly and reflexively about their current practice and its cultural relevance. Unfortunately, as is the case with many artists, they’re arseholes.

First performed at the Bluecoat, Liverpool.

Watch videos here...


T.Hanks - dance performance work.

T.Hanks is new 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.

Watch the trailer here...


The Animal Was Upon Him - performance work.

This performance is a ridiculous conversation, a wry two-hander of nonsensical, pseudo-philosophical badinage and silliness. It’s a trip to a Victorian zoo, a filthy reading of astral constellations and what it’s like to be an ape. But it’s also really complicated, with more moves than the average game of chess* and a lot more swearing.

“Rats who build the labyrinth from which they will try to escape.”
- Raymond Queneau

Since 1960, the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, the Workshop of Potential Literature, has used constraints and restrictions to generate new writing.

This work is a live-annotated example of redesigned OuLiPo constraints applied to a live theatrical context. Echoing the playful, often funny and unpredictably accessible ethos of the OuLiPo, every moment of this performance is the result of an imposed constraint, without exception.

  1. *probably


It's a Question of Taste - Until Thursday Theatre Company Performance

Two eccentric and badly educated young Englishmen set out on a quest to taste the world, their budget took them only as far as Manchester (Capital of England), New York (Capital of the USA) and Brussels (Capital of Europe).  Until Thursday have rigorously documented everything they have eaten abroad and are happy to present the edited highlights and lowlights of their travels. The performers will digest ideas of global consumption, take a position on terrorism, try out their Romanian accents and enjoy a hamburger.

We have to say, you probably won’t agree with what we have to say, or even think we should say it - but saying that, you have to say, we have got something to say.

Watch a video here...


Villa - 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 – and we so love getting it.

We’ve never been the manifesto-writing island, and so – perhaps a trip to Russia is in order…

Watch a video here...


Georges Perec’s The Machine - Third Angel.

Oliver Bray performs in 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.


Happy? - Third Angel.

A short film about emotion regulation.
Made in conjunction with the book Should I Strap A Battery To My Head? And Other Questions About Emotion.
Edited by Professor Peter Totterdell & Dr Karen Niven and available from Amazon.co.uk

Watch it here...


Pecha Kucha - Slide Presentation

My ‘Droppin’ Shoppin’’ inspired Pecha Kucha has made it to the international site.

Watch it here...


Towards an Academic Artist: Recognising Teachers & Learners as Performance Practitioners - Publication.

International Journal of the Arts in Society

Winner of the International Award for Excellence for the  top ranked article 2008

Go here to view...


Academic - Oliver Bray is a Principal Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University where he is the Academic Leader of the Performing Arts department.  He is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Acadamy.


We Should Have Stood Still

(then everything would have been okay)

  1. -Until Thursday Theatre Company Performance

Shamelessly indulging in a drinking game that attempts to match the weekly consumption drunk by miners 50 years ago, Until Thursday try to resurrect a site-specific performance that was made on behalf of a specific community at a specific woodland area somewhere near Sheffield… only they’re not in the woods anymore.

By mapping multiple time strands onto the performance, We Should Have Stood Still questions the way we record and make sense of the past in a performance that never quite manages to find an accurate version of itself

Watch a video of the Belgrade performance here...


Welcome to Our World

- Performance/Seminar

Until Thursday have taken stuff a little too literally, and will reveal everything in this performative, interactive, workshop-seminar…

...and if there’s time, talk a little bit about their philosophy, influences and how they make performance work.

May contain adults and drinking.


Christmas Dinner: a contemporary Pantomime - performance.

The traditional English Pantomime is a great British institution that has sadly been distilled over time to a predictable formula that leaves audiences and actors frustrated and disappointed.  Christmas Dinner sees a contemporary twist on the form of the traditional English Panto, flips it on its head and attempts to re-capture the flavour and excitement of this fascinating British gem.


The Murder of Mary Bateman - Bespoke Murder Mystery Performance Events.

Performed at the Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds.

Watch a video here...

APLAUZE Magazine, Sibiu International Theatre Festival 2010 - image of Villa on the front, review (in Romanian) on Page 3 - Eugenio Barba on page 2 [sic]

Click here for PDFHome_files/5.pdfHome_files/5_1.pdfshapeimage_1_link_0

Plays & Players - Performance

Plays & Players is a work that is only allowed to exist within the issues of an out-of-print theatrical magazine. The audience are guided through the 'printed' years 1953 to 1960, though their route must be precise, specific and clear, it by no means can or must be historically comprehensive.

Using found materials edited for a performance where the documentary meets the contemporary, makers and watchers alike are made to question this selection process and find their own position within this tour, this bizarre history lesson.

Thank you Janice.


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...


Finding my Mirror - Plenary Paper Presentation at the International conference Arts in Society.

This presentation is a bit of a ramble, a stumble – but don’t worry, I’ve checked if that’s okay with the organisers and it is.  I would like you to imagine if you will, a mirror, a broken mirror, a set of fragments really, on the floor.  All I want is to be able to see my own face – and that doesn’t seem particularly difficult.

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you”

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

Watch a video here...


Do You Matter? - animation.

A Short and not a little provocative comment on the difficulties and contradictions of performance practices, as exhibited by some...maybe...

Watch a video here...


Stand Up & Talk: repositioning the ‘Act’ of teaching - performative conference paper. 

In a world of Higher Education increasingly saturated with very valuable advances in technology enhanced learning, it may become easy to lose sight of one simple fact that applies to every member of a teaching ‘community of practice’ (Lave & Wenger) – the fact that as a teacher you have to stand up and talk to students.  This seemingly simple, but often assumed skill, that tutors perform every day is the cause of deep anxiety for many teachers, particularly when notions of being knowledgeable are confused with the ability to deliver that knowledge.  This interactive session positions the activity of teaching as a ‘role’ that needs to be appropriately ‘performed’.  Highlighting the importance of the voice and body as the primary tool for the dissemination of knowledge to students, this interactive session references a set of ‘voice training’ workshops delivered to new teaching staff at Leeds Metropolitan University.  This session encourages participants to remember and reignite the qualities of the great teachers who influenced them, within their community of learning and how their existing communities can/should be developed.  This session engages with the notion that teachers often become role models, developing through demonstration and imitation, the ‘softer’ but equally important skills of confidence, open-mindedness, collaboration and leadership in students, skills that are so significant in such an unsure economic climate (Johnson & Kress).

Watch the first five minutes here...


University, worth it? - report for Devoted & Disgruntled.  My report for the D&R roadshow, Leeds.

Read it Here...


Performance Maker

Head of Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett University

un plagiat par anticipation

Voicing Trauma and Truth: Narratives of Disruption and Transformation - 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

Buy on Amazon.co.uk here...

The Elision of Scaff’ - performance work.

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


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 installment of Oliver Bray’s infatuation with the OuLiPo (the Workshop of Potential Literature) – and this time, it’s got risky.


Brewing Performance - an exciting new collaboration between Leeds Beckett Performing Arts and The Tetley, Leeds.

Between January and June 2015, performance makers from Leeds Beckett University teamed up with local artists and delivered performance provocations in and around The Tetley - the series culminated in the Brewing Performance Symposium in June. This ongoing project, that sees the coming together of two of Leeds’ most important cultural organisations, promises to throw up some fascinating and radical new performance interventions in the future.

Tetley website here...


Georges Perec’s The Raise - collaboration with Chris Hall.

A performance working with David Bellos’ translation of the Perecquian classic.

“A hilarious and inventive office-drone odyssey”