Sites of Transformation: Applied and Socially Engaged Performance in Rural Landscapes

In Sites of Transformation: Applied and Socially Engaged Scenography in Rural Landscapes I examine the expanding field of socially engaged scenography and the development of scenography as a distinctive type of applied art and performance practice that seeks tangible, therapeutic, and transformative real-world outcomes. It is what Christopher Baugh calls ‘scenography with purpose’.

Using case-studies drawn from the body of site-specific walking-performances I have created in the UK over the last decade, the book demonstrates how I use scenography to emplace challenging, marginalizing or ‘missing’ life-events into rural landscapes – creating a site of transformation – in which participants can reflect-upon, re-image, re-imagine their relationship to their circumstances. My work has addressed terminal illness and bereavement, in/fertility and childlessness by circumstance, and (im)mobility and memory. These works have been created on mountains, in caves, along coastlines and over beaches. Each case-study is supported by evidential material demonstrating the effects and outcomes of the performance being discussed.

Case studies include Fissure (2011), Ghost Bird (2012), The Gathering (2014), Warnscale (2015), Mulliontide (2016), Dorothy’s Room (2018) and Women's Walks to Remember: ‘With memory I was there’  (2018-2019). 

The book reveals my creative methodology and application of three distinct strands of transdisciplinary research into the site/landscape, the subject/life-event, and with people/participants affected by it. I explain the seven ‘scenographic’ principles I have developed, and which apply theories and aesthetics relating to land/scape art and walking and performance practices from Early Romanticism to the present day. They are underpinned by the concept of the feminine ‘material’ sublime, and informed by the attentive, autotopographic, therapeutic and highly scenographic use of walking and landscape found in the work of Dorothy Wordsworth and her female contemporaries.

Sites of Transformation is published by Bloomsbury Metheun

on the 24th Feb 2022.

Discount code (when purchasing on - UK: GLR 9XLUK


In Sites of Transformation artist-scholar Louise Ann Wilson introduces us to the innovative concept and practice of socially engaged and applied scenography, walking us through her scenographic-led work. In a highly original triangulation of place (from mountains, to beaches, to caves), challenging life-event (from bereavement, to involuntary childlessness, to immobility), and participant, Louise reveals the ways in which ‘sited’ scenography can foster powerful and transformative acts of re-imaging and reimagining. This scenography with purpose is rigorously thoughtful and creative, emplacing hope in difficult times.

Deirdre Heddon, Professor of Theatre Studies, University of Glasgow, UK.


Book cover image from Fissure by Louise Ann Wilson. Dancer: Jennifer Essex. Choreographer: Nigel Stewart. Commissioners: Artevents. Photographer: Bethany Clarke / Artevents, all rights reserved.