PANEL 1: Oversharing

Thursday 18th January 2018 – 11:50AM-13:20PM – Embassy Theatre

  • Revealing the Invisible: The politics of sharing lived experiences of ‘addiction’ and ‘recovery’. Cathy Sloan

My research is bound up in theatre-making practices that, in turn, are bound up in practices of recovery and lived experiences of addiction. Many of these practices have, traditionally, involved anonymity and confidentiality, particularly in relation to the Eleventh Tradition of the Twelve-Step programme that states, ‘Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films’ (NA, 1976). Yet, there seems to be a growing trend more recently in public promotion of the 12 Steps, such as Russell Brand’s Recovery (2017) and posters advertising Alcoholics Anonymous in underground stations (seen at Swiss Cottage station, October 2017).

Simultaneously, the sharing of lived experiences that emerge through the creative process of my theatre-practice contain autobiographical details that are perhaps not for public consumption, or at least require explicit permission from collaborators and a critical evaluation as to the purpose of revealing these narratives. This becomes particularly pertinent when adopting a position of ‘alongsideness’ during practice, whereby control and power is shared with co-collaborators.

The doing and sharing of my research, therefore, involves a messy mediation of what can, cannot, should or should not be mentioned in its dissemination beyond the immediate group with whom it is initially created. This paper reflects upon a recent example of my practice to explore the politics involved in deciding how and what to reveal.

Cathy has worked as a teacher, facilitator and director/theatre-maker. She was Associate and later Artistic Director of Outside Edge, specialising in performance with and by people in recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction. Currently she is a PhD candidate at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, exploring a philosophy of theatre-making that supports practices of recovery.

  • Ethical border zones: the tortured female refugee body as performer/ victim / activist. Rebecca Hayes Laughton

Ethical border zones: the tortured female refugee body as performer/ victim / activist
“You will be asked for proof of your story: we know our “proof”
is our bodies: it will be hard for you to explain.”

– dialogue from Advice written by Refugee Women’s Voices drama group, June 2016

Should refugee performers share stories of their degradation and physical abuse publically as a performance? Does the theatre space enable radical physical encounters that challenge and/or reimagine discriminatory refugee women identities? Or are such performances gratuitous and invasive, “reductive and potentially re-violating” (Salverson 2001)? This paper explores physical performance practices that foreground these stories and experiences, and interrogates if and how such practice provides visibility for and representation of refugee women on their own terms as they campaign for their human rights to be respected and for social change. Following feminist geographer Doreen Massey’s theories of space as an active, political concept where our social relations are a “power geometry” of “domination and subordination” the session will suggest ways we might begin to assess the effect of the tortured female body as a co-ordinate within a public performance space, and whether theatre can provide a holding form in which to host these negotiations around an embodied feminist aesthetic of political agency, visibility and power. Drawing on the ideas of Judith Butler, Athena Athanasiou and Imogen Tyler around precarity, dispossession and the abject this presentation paper features excerpts of personal testimony and performance case studies, and illicits the views of the intersections audience. We shall begin to evaluate whether shows including women victims of trauma and torture performing their stories are morally and ethically unacceptable, or a radical performance practice that resists oppressive and/or pitying narratives.

Drama Director at Women for Refugee Women ( in London, running weekly drama sessions at the Southbank Centre. Drama facilitator at Rewrite, who use drama and art to welcome newly arrived teenagers to London ( Producer for Arts Council funded school theatre project Hidden exploring how teenagers in Britain welcome refugees, and touring show Borderline, a satire of the Calais refugee camp devised and performed by refugee and european performers.

  • Voicing Domestic Abuse Against Women through Digitized Theatre in India. Nivedita Gokhake

According to BBC NEWS ASIA, “About once every five minutes an incident of domestic violence is reported in India, under its legal definition of ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives”. As per the statistics by National Crime Records Bureau of India, In year 2013, 309546 crimes were reported against women. Unfortunately, the numbers are still on rise but this is a statistical overview of how ‘domestic abuse’ in India is very much an existing issue that definitely needs to be voiced. Can this voice be lent through digital theatre? Can theatre prove to be an effective medium of articulating domestic abuse?

Drama is an aesthetical manifestation of truth that is contrived through ‘experience’. As an expression, theatre is responsible for reproducing the archetype of this ‘truth’ that is experienced by an individual. This paper hence aims at studying the possibilities of utilizing the medium of digitized theatre to increase awareness about domestic abuse and develop a range of interactive – digital channels within the Indian communities for a wider reach of this issue. This study will also examine a practice based theatre model titled, ‘Tejomaya’ (to enlighten) that vocalizes the testimonies of victims of domestic abuse through conducting extensive theatre workshops.
These activities comprise of physical exercises that are extemporized and further processed digitally to reach to a synthesis of building a performance. The core motive of this model is to produce a performance by creating accounts of real situations and establishing a process of psychoanalysis through digitization. This paper hence analyzes the utilization of digital theatre to enhance the articulation of social issues in a broader and truer sense by inculcating the idea of fighting this issue, as women, men and especially as humans.