Paper Presentations # 2 – Session 2D

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

Chaired by Joshinder Chaggar

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

Jonathan Marshall – Hysterical Aesthetics in Contemporary Performance: Theatre, Dance, Voice

This paper surveys a number of performative strategies to, in a sense, “decolonise the self” or the idea of a unitary modal psycho-physical individual. As Foucault and others have demonstrated, modern society and its economic and political structures push individuals towards thinking of themselves as, and functioning as, subjects with a stable, centralising core identity around which all other elements are organised. Subjects and bodies need not however be unified, many experiencing various degrees of fragmentation and self-difference. In this paper I examine a number of performance texts and practices which draw on the history and theorisation of “hysteria” in order to dramatize, enact and/or perform a chaotic multiplicity of self, moving between dance, drama, and vocal performance. “Hysterical” performances, often (though not exclusively) drawing on the historical record of late nineteenth century patients diagnosed with hysteria, dramatize splits in the body (corporeal multiplicity, divided movement, etc; Beresford’s dance film I Dream of Augustine is one example), of the voice (Margaret Cameron’s embrace of the estrangement of listening to oneself), and acts of fraught hosting (the sense that entities inhabit and act against the performing self, as with the vocal performances of Sage “Pbbbt” Harlow). Harlow’s model of accepting these apparently “foreign” impulses, forces and subjective elements from within and without “with compassion” for oneself and what arises is particularly advocated.

Jonathan Marshall is an interdisciplinary scholar with a background in history. Marshall has published extensively on the links between the historiography of hysteria, neurology and performance, including a monograph (“Performing Neurology: The Dramaturgy of Dr Jean-Martin Charcot,” 2016) and two recent book chapters (Braun, ed., “Performing Hysteria,” 2020, & “There is a Method to this Madness: Hysteria in Contemporary Art Practices,” 2021). Marshall has written extensively on butoh dance, landscape performance, as well as on Australian First Nation performance and the colonial landscape. Marshall is based at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth.

Peter Zazzali – Oppression and the Actor: Locating Freire’s Pedagogy in the Training Space – an Ethnographic Investigation

Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed depicts education as a power struggle within which those in positions of authority objectify and exploit those who are vulnerable. It is a dehumanizing dynamic wherein shared governance is shunned in favour of hierarchies that privilege a few individuals at the expense of everyone else. Nonetheless, Freire offers hope for the oppressed through unified resistance against authoritarian pedagogical practices as well as systemic formations of knowledge. History and culture can thus be understood as weaponizing forces upholding hegemonic social orders. The goal is to challenge these systems toward a more just and inclusive model of teaching and learning. Freire accentuates the fluidity and instability of power structures, thereby prompting us to seek ways to disrupt and replace oppression with empowerment. Nothing is a fixed entity. Everything is and always will be subject to interrogation, to rethinking, to change. An equitable distribution of agency is foundational to a diverse and inclusive pedagogy the likes of which will define the future of actor training.

How does Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed apply to drama schools and more specifically the training of actors? In what ways do history, tradition, and culture colonize curricula? How can trainers disrupt these practices while developing progressive epistemologies toward equity and inclusion? My presentation will use Freire as a lens through which to cross-culturally to critique a euro-centric hegemony in actor training. I will address race, gender, social class, and nationhood by citing acting programs in a postcolonial context. Relying on both primary and secondary research, I will deploy an ethnographic methodology drawn from onsite visits at leading drama schools throughout the UK and several of its former colonies (e.g., US and Australia). I will position Freire alongside fieldwork to show how colonized approaches disenfranchise the identities of those whom the training is intended to serve. I will present best— and better—practices to argue on behalf of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive pedagogy.

Peter Zazzali is a theatre scholar who specialises in actor training, theories of acting and directing, and the sociology of theatre. He is Senior Lecturer of Acting and the Director of the BA (Hons) Acting Program at LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore. Prior to that, he was an Associate Professor at the University of Kansas’s Department of Theatre and Dance. His scholarship has appeared in numerous refereed journals including Theatre Journal, Theatre Topics, Theatre Research International, and the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. He recently contributed chapters to a pair of anthologies: Philosophizing Brecht: Critical Readings on Art, Consciousness, Social Theory, and Performance (Brill, 2019) and New Directions for Teaching Theatre Arts (Palgrave, 2018). His first book, Acting in the Academy: the History of Professional Actor Training in US Higher Education, explores the history and praxis of BFA/MFA acting programs in America. In 2021 Routledge released his sequel, Actor Training in Anglophone Countries: Past, Present, and Future, which examines the pedagogies and sociocultural contexts of actor training from a global perspective. 

Asher Warren – Scenarios of making in Tasmania: intersectionality, backroads and flyovers

In 2021, the Dark Mofo Festival in nipaluna, lutruwita (Hobart, Tasmania) ran the provocative social post ‘WE WANT YOUR BLOOD’ as a call out for First Nations people to donate blood for a proposed work by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra Union Flag. The backlash was swift and forceful, with demands for a boycott of the festival, and signalled an interesting turning point. David Walsh washed his hands of the project, and artistic director Leigh Carmichael apologised and cancelled the event, rather than embracing the controversy as they have done in the past. In this paper, I want to begin by examining this controversy, and the way this highly public backlash brought into view a particular set of processes and forms of art making, and engaged in a critical intervention, attempting to reorient Dark MOFO toward alternative anti-colonial methods and perspectives. It also, however, directs attention to the role often given to arts festivals as events where intersections of place, people and culture are staged. With this in mind – this paper contextualises the Dark MOFO controversy in relation to the intersections staged by biennial major festival Ten Days on the Island (TDOTI). Examining a number of socially engaged works in that festival, I suggest we might consider if, and how practices of intersectional ‘traffic management’ are practice; setting up fast lanes and backroads of intersectional practice, and whether these festivals are in fact developing the scope and capacity for intersection, or creating flyovers and underpasses to keep their operations running smoothly.

Asher Warren is Head of Theatre and Performance at the University of Tasmania. His research explores how theatre speaks to contemporary audiences, and how theatrical traditions are adapted and expanded through networked culture. His writing has been published in Performance Research, Performance Paradigm, Australasian Drama Studies, Refractory: A Journal of Media Entertainment, as well as for the edited collection Performance in a Militarized Culture (2018). Asher is an associate editor for Performance Research, a member of the IFTR Intermediality Working Group, Performance Studies international, and the PSi Future Advisory Board from 2017-2020.