ADSA CONFERENCE 2021
PERFORMERS, MAKERS, METHODOLOGIES
CRAFTING CONDITIONS FOR DECENTRING SCHOLARSHIP AND PEDAGOGY IN DRAMA, THEATRE, PERFORMANCE STUDIES AND DANCE
WEDNESDAY 1ST DECEMBER
NZ – 8pm | VIC/NSW/TAS – 6pm | SA – 5.30pm | QLD – 5pm | NT – 4.30pm | WA – 3pm
Chaired by Katya Johanson
Dementia, Narrative and Performance: Staging Reality, Reimagining Identities (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) by Janet Gibson
Focusing mainly on case studies from Australia and the United States of America, this book considers how people with dementia represent themselves and are represented in ‘theatre of the real’ productions and care home interventions, assessing the extent to which the ‘right kind’ of dementia story is being affirmed or challenged. It argues that this type of story — one of tragedy, loss of personhood, biomedical deficit, and socio-economic ‘crisis — produces dementia and the people living with it, as much as biology does. It proposes two novel ideas. One is that the ‘gaze’ of theatre and performance offers a reframing of some of the behaviours and actions of people with dementia, through which deficit views can be changed to ones of possibility. The other is that, conversely, dementia offers productive perspectives on ’theatre of the real’.
Scanning contemporary critical studies about and practices of ‘theatre of the real’ performances and applied theatre interventions, the book probes what it means when certain ‘theatre of the real’ practices (specifically verbatim and autobiographical) interact with storytellers considered, culturally, to be ‘unreliable narrators’. It also explores whether autobiographical theatre is useful in reinforcing a sense of ‘self’ for those deemed no longer to have one. With a focus on the relationship between stories and selves, the book investigates how selves might be rethought so that they are not contingent on the production of lucid self-narratives, consistent language, and truthful memories.
Janet Gibson manages the Communication Program, at UTS College, Sydney, where she lectures on the relationship between Citizenship and Dementia. Her publications include ‘“Talking out, talking back, talking otherwise”: Dementia and Access in Autobiographical Performance’ (RiDE, 2018) and a chapter in the forthcoming Contemporary Narratives of Ageing, Illness and Care (Routledge, 2022). She is also a trained TimeSlips facilitator and an actor, having performed for Tectonic Theatre Project in their production of Women in Beckett in New York City.