Paper Presentations # 3 – Session 3D

NZ – 1.45pm | VIC/NSW/TAS – 11.45am | SA – 11.15am | QLD – 10.45am | NT – 10.15am | WA – 8.45am

Chaired by Ebony Muller

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

Daniel Johnston – ‘Drunken prophecies, libels and dreams’: Richard III’s Inauthenticity

Richard III is perhaps the greatest actor in Shakespeare’s oeuvre. There is a doubleness in the would-be king since he is ‘outwardly’ caring while ‘inwardly’ scheming. Although Richard has been interpreted as a Machiavellian tactician, a phenomenological interpretation might examine his actions in terms of ‘inauthenticity’ – the failure to face the truth of one’s own being. Folding philosophical themes back into the performance process, this paper builds on previous research (Johnston 2021) by offering a phenomenological language for ‘thinking through theatre’ and the ‘knowing body’ in rehearsal – crafting the conditions for decentring scholarship and pedagogy in drama. Such an analysis follows Emily Shortslef (2017) who explores ghosts in Richard III as the materiality of Being-with others rather than interior conscience. Likewise, Hatice Karaman (2020) relates Shakespeare’s text to Levinas (the face-to-face encounter with the other) and Arendt (the two-in-one dialogue within the self). The approach involves reconfiguring knowledge by recognising theatre-making as a mode of epistemological inquiry and performance as an event of truth. In this sense, theatre phenomenology is a decentring practice in that it doesn’t take for granted the ‘inside’ (thinking) and ‘outside’ (material) body as an ‘isolated self’ but rather explores how we come to experience an inside and an outside in the first place. In approaching a role, theatre phenomenology begins with sensations, objects, actions, and other beings to reveal the interconnected whole of Being-in-the-world – something Richard fails to recognise.

Daniel Johnston (2021) Phenomenology for Actors: Theatre-Making and the Question of Being, Bristol and Chicago: Intellect.
Hatice Karaman (2020) ‘The Spectral Other or the Self: Justice in Richard III’, British and American Studies, 26, 153-59.
Emily Shortslef (2017) ‘A thousand several tongues”: The Drama of Conscience and the Complaint of the Other in Shakespeare’s Richard III’, Exemplaria: Medieval, Early Modern, Theory, 29(2), 118-35.

Daniel Johnston is the author of Phenomenology for Actors: Theatre-Making and the Question of Being (2021) and Theatre and Phenomenology: Manual Philosophy (2017). He is an Honorary Associate at the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, The University of Sydney. Previously, he was a Principal Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, UK., and also lectured at The University of Notre Dame, Australia, The University of Sydney, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), and Macquarie University. He holds a PhD in Performance Studies (University of Sydney) and MA (Cantab) in Philosophy (University of Cambridge).

Graham Seaman – Rethinking The Currency Lass: Turning a racist Lass on its head

Edward Geoghegan’s musical play The Currency Lass premiered at the Royal Victoria Theatre, Sydney, in May 1844. This paper will discuss the play’s original bigotry and racism. It will move on to how in 1989, the play was given a fresh approach in a production by the Q Theatre, Penrith, directed by Egil Kipste. Kipste used the multiculturalism of his cast and the design elements of an Indigenous dot painting design on the floorcloth to undercut the nineteenth century bigotry and colonialism in the play.

The play pivots on what happens when a woman born in Australia plays a trick on a bigoted old English gentleman. Egil Kipste’s production of The Currency Lass used the complexity of nation, gender and race and the multicultural nature of the cast as a layer to show how Australia has changed in two hundred years and in which Australia has become a very diverse multicultural country. In the Prologue to this production by John McCallam says: the play is about sex and race. Woppaburra woman, Justine Saunders, played Sir Samuel Simile. This inverted the nature of the high status English character and emphasised the sex of the actor with a woman playing the role of a man. Although, no masterpiece of writing, this lively light-hearted play offers an entertaining and challenging performance piece for performers. It also offers a challenge for the motherhood of the old country Britain by the new colony of New South Wales.

Graham Seaman is a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and a Graduate Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History graduate from the University of New England. He has directed productions of What Where by Samuel Beckett and Oh What A Lovely War at the University of New England. He worked with Adrian Kiernander as a research assistant on several books by Adrian Kiernander, Jonathan Bollen and Bruce Parr. He has also been a research assistant on several books by Lorraine Stacker. He trained in acting and theatre at the Q Theatre, Penrith.

Sarah Balkin – On Quitting: Dave Chappelle’s The Closer and Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette

Like Hannah Gadsby, Dave Chappelle understands the art of quitting. Chappelle famously walked away from a $50 million deal with Comedy Central in 2005 because he became concerned that his use of racialized humor was perpetuating stereotypes that harm African Americans. At the end of his 2021 Netflix special The Closer, Chappelle quits again, but differently: following a show full of jokes about LGBTQ people, he announces that he is “done” making jokes about them “until we are both sure that we are laughing together.” Chappelle’s performance of quitting responds to and often inverts the politics and structure of Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette (2017), the show in which she infamously quit comedy because she felt it reinforced her marginalization as a gender-nonconforming lesbian from rural Tasmania. Nanette is an unnamed intertext in The Closer, an emblem of the “cancel culture” Chappelle rails against. Where Gadsby’s performance of quitting in Nanette strives to show how comedy harms marginalized performers, in The Closer Chappelle invites cancellation by leaning into the persona of homophobic, transphobic comedian, making a platform out of the accusations levelled at him following the release of his previous special, Sticks and Stones. In this paper I compare Gadsby and Chappelle’s performances of quitting, not to valorize one and condemn the other, but to examine their efficacy as interventions into comic conventions and public debate.

Sarah Balkin is a Senior Lecturer in English and Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her monograph, Spectral Characters: Genre and Materiality on the Modern Stage, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2019.Her research spans nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first-century literature, theatre, and performance. She is currently researching the historical emergence of deadpan performance (1830-1930) and its derivations in contemporary queer and feminist comedy.