Australasian Drama Studies
Issue 83| October 2023
Table of Contents
1. Issue 083 (Full Issue PDF)
4. Performing Arts and the Climate Emergency: Horizon-Scanning the Futures of Practice and Scholarship Susanne Thurow, Helena Grehan and Jane Davidson
The following reflects a conversation between Dr Susanne Thurow (Deputy Director, iCinema Centre, University of New South Wales – scholar in Performance and Digital Media), Prof. Helena Grehan (Murdoch University – scholar in Performance and Theatre Studies), and Prof. Jane Davidson (The University of Melbourne – artist and scholar in Social Psychology of Music) that took place on 6 July 2023 via Microsoft Teams. Brought together by an interest in exploring the ways in which the Performing Arts may help foster understanding and preparedness for the vast impacts of climate change, we canvassed developments that have been standing out to each of us, seen from our distinct disciplinary vantage points. While such discussion can by definition never be exhaustive, we are hoping that our conversation may inspire a strength-based reflection of the as yet untapped potential and opportunities that lie ahead in our challenging planetary future.
Climate Change; Creative Intervention; Disaster Preparedness; Performing Arts; Resilience
5. The Myth of the Resilient Artist: Goodwill and In-Kind Contribution in the Performing Arts Sector Rea Dennis and Katy Maudlin
Jonathan Joseph argues ‘that the recent enthusiasm for the concept of resilience … is the consequence of its fit with neoliberal discourse’ (1). The rapid migration of the concept across a multitude of policy domains has delivered a unique set of challenges for Australia’s small to medium and independent theatre sector. This article considers the way in which performing arts is impacted by the discourses of community resilience, focusing on the way in which unpaid labour by freelance artists is implicated in the idealised resilience of the sector. By analysing interview transcripts of performing artists in Melbourne Australia, we shed light on the difficulties artists encounter in achieving financial stability and proper recognition for the personal and individual cost they endure to create their works. Moreover, we critique the sector's tendency to overlook the labour of these artists and the consequential perpetuation of the economic burden.
Independent artist, in-kind contribution, small to medium arts sector, Melbourne performing arts sector, arts funding.
6. Pivoting ‘Resilience’: Australian Women Playwrights, Community and the COVID-19 Crisis Rebecca Clode and Julieanne Lamond
In this essay we discuss the lived experience of the COVID-19 pandemic for 10 Australian women playwrights, in light of the pandemic’s gendered impacts and the calls for resilience that it prompted. We offer insights from our interviews with Vanessa Bates, Janet Brown, Mary Anne Butler, Emilie Collyer, Noëlle Janaczewska, Verity Laughton, Michele Lee, Alana Valentine and two anonymous writers. These conversations highlight how the emphasis
placed on resilience, especially by funding bodies, registered for artists in the context of an already depleted and under-resourced industry. We argue that the challenges of COVID were not mitigated but rather compounded by calls for resilience in various guises, most notably in appeals for writers to ‘pivot’ their creative practice, and to compete with colleagues for funding. Our study supports the notion of a reimagining of 'resilience,' from a fraught neoliberal concept to a more productive communal strategy for use in challenging times.
7. Performing Precarity and Transilience Rand Hazou
Australian women playwrights, resilience, COVID-19, pandemic, arts funding, community
Rand Hazou also proposes a reframing of the concept of resilience in a case study of the work of the Auckland-based Hobson Street Theatre Company. This study offers an example of a strength-based approach to the creation of safe and inclusive spaces in which people experiencing homelessness can share their stories with each other and with the public. In this examination of a work (Let me tell you about Auckland ) which exposes narratives of precarity, Hazou unpacks “uncritical notions of resilience “that assume a ‘bouncing back’ from entrenched insecurity, describing how indigenous Māori principles of care, kinship and collectivity can be mobilised not merely to promote the well-being of participants by ameliorating their current circumstances. In adopting the term ‘transilience’, Hazou points to the project’s capacity to engender movement beyond precarity towards an authentic participation in the broader community and civil society.
Homeless, Site-Specific Performance, Promenade Performance, Applied Theatre
8. Femme Queen Energy: Community as Protest and Embodied Transfeminine Resistance in Vogue Ballroom Tristan Niemi
At the end of 2021’s Alexander Ball, Mother Ella Ganza called all the Transwomen of Colour onstage and demanded the audience “protect” them. This moment highlighted what I understand to be the purpose of any ball: to enact a Queer performative utopia that facilitates the ritualised disappearance of the incongruent archival selves that otherwise haunt its occupants. Vogue Ballroom understands the idea of community as protest intimately. As such, its resistant practices seek to aid its participants in the transcension of their political realities rather than answer resilience culture’s call for the ‘redistribution of responsibility’ (Ames & Greer 1) for progress onto said participants.
I assert the Ballroom category of Vogue Femme is where the most potent forms of this resistance occur. Due to its origin being rooted in the safety, expression, and worship of the Femme Queen, this category facilitates the embodiment and dissemination of transfeminine resistance modes in the contemporary homonormative and resilience-oriented public sphere.
transgender cultures, archives, concrete utopias, Vogue Femme, Queer nightlife
9. Digital Dance Practices: A Model for New Mobility in Performing Arts Rebecca Weber
The field of mobility studies has advanced to include artistic artefacts (cultural mobilities) and digital technologies and capital (new mobilities). New mobilities, in turn, initiated a focus on sustainability, e.g. green mobilities. In this article, I present three cases from digital dance practices as models for new cultural mobility, highlighting key green mobilities strategies of touring artistic concepts rather than physical human travel and more meaningful exchanges with local communities, e.g. deep mobility. The case studies include: 1. Project Trans(m)it’s distance dance creation Phase 2, which offers examples of deep mobility through international remote collaboration in making and rehearsal periods. 2. Concept touring as tracked through Project Trans(m)it’s many iterations of Phase 3. And 3. Reflection on the work Vector presenting virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (XR) as formats for deep mobility and concept touring in dance. These cases are presented alongside other research from mobility and performance studies to reflect on considerations for resilient future practice.
Mobilities, green mobility, concept touring, deep mobility, digital dance
10. The Brink: Receptive Generosity and Kindness in the Development of a Choreographic Pedagogy of Consent for Actor Training Samantha Chester and Renée Newman
A theatre actor needs empathy – to develop character, to relate to the audience, to embody story – and proximity and touch between actors plays into this. What happens to actors in training when there are strict COVID-19 mandates in places? This article proposes that when proximity between actors is harnessed not only in form and content, but also in developing how a work is collectively made, the student actor is enriched through a commitment to generosity and kindness. Drawing on the 2022 case study Brink, developed with second year students at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, the article describes the methodology and the approach referred to as a choreographic pedagogy of consent. It discusses student experiences and argues for collective kindness and generosity as a core principle in supporting a successful collective but also for a reconsideration of intimacy direction and training in the actor training conservatoire.
Consent; Actor training; devising; movement-based performance; kindness
11. Emotional Aesthetic(s): Re:orienting Desires Joanna Cook
This article explores a dance artist-researcher's journey amid global crises, focusing on re:orienting desires in artistic practice. It introduces four foundational philosophies: Tender(e) Practices, Emergent re:Orientations, Emotional Aesthetics, and Multimodal Co-labor(ation). These philosophies serve as the conceptual framework for the author's Fragments of Silent Skin project. This article unfolds the significance of each philosophy, revealing its role in shaping the project's transition from a domestic to a digital space. By embracing Intimate Practices of (altered) Liveness, the digital realm becomes a bridge fostering a sense of closeness over distance. These threads offer reparative resilience as we re:imagine the future of artistic practice, process, and performance, seeking sustain-able and response-able avenues for continuation.
Emotional Aesthetics, Ecological Resilience, Artistic Adaptability, Multimodal Collaboration, Response-able Sustainability
12. In the Ruins of the Future: The Role of the Creative Artist in a Time of ‘Thin’ Belief Julian Meyrick
This article asks what the role of the creative artist might be if not constrained by the Western meta-narratives of ‘progress’ or ‘doom’. This binary choice generates a split consciousness where arts and culture are faced by two competing versions of Modernity which cannot be simultaneously true. The chief features of these meta-narratives are examined, together with their associated roles. Drawing on Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, the main argument is that we remain in collective shock from the past 150 years, traumatized by the continual killing and the huge numbers involved. The last section explores the ‘third space’ of creative arts research. The task for those interested in an expanded role for the creative arts is to shift them from an object of research to a mode of inquiry, drawing freely on insights from both creative practice and traditional scholarship to generate a hybrid vein of knowledge.
creative arts research, narrative, trauma, Modernity, Arendt, culture, knowledge