Music Theatre without Voice: Facilitating and directing diverse participation for opera, musical, and pantomime

Seubert, Florian J. 2022. Music Theatre without Voice: Facilitating and directing diverse participation for opera, musical, and pantomime. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Much has been published in recent years about different areas of disability theatre and fringe theatre that is interested in inclusivity and music. Some productions and companies have become prominent players. Within the area of opera, musical, and pantomime, however, the concept of inclusive music theatre lacks a critical space for evolving a shared vocabulary in praxis. Deploying methods from the field of practice arts research, this PhD thesis investigates inclusive music theatre as coherent aesthetic paradigm. The research articulates through studio and performance work what constitutes participatory music drama and consolidates a discrete set of engagement strategies under the umbrella of ‘music theatre without voice’.

A renewed, polyvalent notion of voice emerges in all this as sensorial tool, image of creative agency, and political metaphor. The thesis extends the idea of voice into a multisensory discourse (olfactory, gustatory, visual, tactual, and aural), reaching out to differently-abled communities with a particular focus on learning disability and non-verbal communication. In doing so, the dramatic praxis opens up a discussion into how inclusive music theatre appears as an embodied practice away from naturalised norms of linguistic, intellectual, or physical ableism. The thesis further sheds light on the position of the facilitator-director within inclusive work as a liminal figure between co-creating and artistically guiding devising and rehearsal processes.

To problematise this fluid role, co-creative leadership is explored through a variety of practice research projects, evidencing methods of how to facilitate and direct successfully in these contexts. The projects presented include a pantomime devised with young adults from the autistic spectrum; a melodramatic story for women with learning disabilities; a multi-sensory opera experience for women with learning disabilities. The thesis further updates the practice in times of Covid with research into digital facilitation. It also investigates techniques of musical storytelling within an LGBTQ setting to reveal the adaptability of the practice articulated. The PhD introduces and coins the term faciliteur for a participatory director within the inclusive work field to advance academic discussion as much as practical considerations.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Music theatre, multi-sensory, vocality, disability drama, inclusive facilaition, storytelling, Orfeo, Hans Sachs, queer drama, digital facilitation

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


30 September 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Oct 2022 16:01

Last Modified:

18 Oct 2022 12:33


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