Paper Presentations # 2 – Session 2A

NZ – 4pm | VIC/NSW/TAS – 2pm | SA – 1.30pm | QLD – 1pm | NT – 12.30pm
WA – 11am

Chaired by Merophie Carr

Links to join all conference sessions can be accessed via the program page of the ADSA conference website

Hadeel Hbdelhameed & Thamir Az-Zubaidy – Iraqi theater in Australia: Intersectionality and reflexivity in research and praxis

This paper examines the Iraqi theatre in Australia and how it operates under a power imbalance. Particularly, we postulate that the challenges that face the Iraqi theatre to reach Australian recognition are mainly due to intersectionality of identity, citizenship, and creativity. The paper argues for the use of reflexivity in theatre and drama studies to understand the complexities of Australian multicultural theatres. It will set Inken Carstensen- Egwuom’s model of connecting intersectionality to reflexivity which suggests that all social differentiations are connected to a methodological need for reflexivity. Hence, it also brings under examination the positionality of Iraqi theatre makers and practitioners as “other” Australians.

Utilising reflexivity in this examination invites questions about what we know about Iraqi theatre (ontology), and how do we usually know about it (epistemology)? The paper is based on qualitative research where the data is collected from two main resources. First, one of the researchers, Dr. Abdelhameed, is cataloging Iraqi theatre produced in AUstralia in the AusStage database. Second, data is also compiled through semi-structured interviews with several Iraqi theatre makers, practitioners, and academics who are based in Australia.

The paper builds on scholarship about Australian multicultural theatre and drama, Iraqi diasporic identity, and theatre dynamics, citing scholars including Thamir Az-Zubaidy, Towfiq Al-Qady, Niz Jabour, Rand Hazou, Amir Al-Azraki, Nadje Al-Ali, and Hadeel Abdelhameed.

Hadeel Abdelhameed is an Early Career Researcher. Currently, she is a research fellow at Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Foundation Syria and Iraq. Her research interests are about the issues of Iraqi theatre and performing arts, gender representation in war times and gender performativity of social movements. Dr. Abdelhameed is researching the Iraqi theatre produced in Australia, and is cataloguing the Iraqi performances in the AusStage. Her works on gender politics, Iraqi theatre, and Op-ed are published in Broad Agenda, the Cambridge Core, Journal of Contemporary Iraq and the Arab World, Australian Institute of International Affairs, and Arab Stage.  Her upcoming book chapter with Palgrave investigates the embodiment of Iraqi women activism through the conventional gender performance of mothering. Dr. Abdelhameed holds a PhD from La Trobe University on the women’s theatrical representations in war times, and a postgraduate diploma in Education from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and M.A. on American contemporary drama from Baghdad University.

Thamir R. S. Az-Zubaidy is a senior lecturer at Wasit University/ College of Education for Human Sciences / Department of English since 8 June 2008. He is a PhD holder from the School of Arts/ University of Leicester, UK, 2018. His doctorate explored multiculturalism in contemporary Australian drama. He is interested in literary form and genre, and much of his research has focused on postcolonial studies. Currently, he teaches drama for BA students and literary criticisms for MA students in literature at Wasit University. His research interests centre on diaspora, identity formation, feminism, multiculturalism and Iraqi post-war drama and fiction. He has published a number of papers including  ‘The Retrieval of Women’s Voices, Resistance and Empowerment in Anna Yen’s “Chinese Take Away”’, The Journal of the European Association for Studies of Australia, Vol.8 No.2, 2017.

Racheal Missingham – Evolution of Deaf Theatre in Australia

Historical research has proven that theatre has been part of the cultural engagement of the Deaf community for many years. A number of Deaf theatre companies emerged in the 1970s and 1980s to connect with the Deaf community and allies in the broader disability and mainstream arts community. The MPhil research aimed to understand the historical and current contexts of Deaf theatre in Australia that includes some aspects of Deaf theatre company business practices and evolving sociocultural paradigms from the 1970s to the present in terms of languages and philosophy.

Racheal Missingham is a Brisbane based Deaf theatre maker with over 10 years of experience of dabbling as physical theatre performer, dramaturg and researcher who works in disability arts and culture and mainstream culture.  Racheal has completed her Master of Philosophy on the history of Deaf Theatre in Australia with support of Australian Research and Training Stipend (2020). She was a recipient of Metro Arts Creative Development Residency and Australia Council for the Arts – Career Development Grant to do career development in physical theatre and to creative development of Deaf Body in Space.

Kathryn Kelly & Sally Chance – The Fourth Wall is Ridiculous: the decentring presence of children in contemporary Australian dance theatre practice

The presence of children in professionally presented performance works is an emergent aspect of theatre for adult and child audiences. Children’s roles range from consultants in the devising of new work to co-creators and performers of work.

At first glance, children’s capacity to disrupt theatrical convention arises from their non-acculturated perspective of being, by definition, new to the experience of participating in theatre. However, theatrical forms are emerging, particularly in the related fields of Theatre for Young Audiences and Theatre for Early Years, that respond directly to the presence of children within an ethos that welcomes their participation rather than merely accommodating it.

This session will discuss how child collaborators in all-ages community workshop SAND influenced and disrupted the development of The House in the Dunes (Belloo Creative) and the methodological nuances forged when performance work Seashore (Sally Chance Dance) balanced rehearsed material with opportunities for un-rehearsed artistic exchange in real time with very young audiences. It seeks to illuminate ways in which this rich field can potentially challenge particular assumptions and ‘habits’ Stenger (2005) that inform our approaches and methodologies as makers of live performance in contemporary Australia. We are also interested in exploring the intersection of children with one of the key eco-poetic thematics of both works – the landscape – sand and sea respectively.

The broader philosophical implication underpinning each discussion is an argument that children’s participation in performance is an aspect of the artistic quality of the work, and hence that the cultural provision made available to children warrants a high level of ambition in its scope, content and delivery.

In theatrical contexts that respond coherently and artistically to children’s normative expression of their agency and ability “it is the children themselves who make the convention of the fourth wall ridiculous” (Wartemann, 2009).

Stengers, Isabelle (2005) Introductory Notes on an Ecology of Practices, Cultural Studies Review, 1 (11) 183-196
Wartemann, G. (2009). Theatre as Interplay: Processes of Collective Creativity in Theatre for Young Audiences. Youth Theatre Journal 23(1), 6-14. DOI: 10.1080/08929090902851528.

Kathryn Kelly is a dramaturg and theatre historian and is currently a Lecturer at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Drama in the Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Justice. Her research interests include dramaturgy and socially engaged, feminist and transcultural performance practices. Her publications include a history of Australian dramaturgy 2000-2010 in Catching Australian Theatre in the 2000s (Australian Theatre Series, Bril) as well as with the Theatre, Dance Performance Training, International Journal of Media and Performance, Australasian Drama Studies, Performing Ethos, Body, Space, Technology, Social Alternatives, Fusions and various industry journals. She was a long-time Real Time contributor and continues to mentor young critics and dramaturgs. 

Sally Chance is a dance-theatre artist. She is motivated by the power of socially inclusive arts participation and of collaborating with specific communities, whose artistic ideas open the door to new performance forms. For the past fourteen years Sally’s work, through her independent company, Sally Chance Dance, has been dedicated to the cultural lives of children aged three years and younger, including babies. In 2020 she completed doctoral study at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in which she explored the relationship between invitation and participation in Theatre for Early Years.