The beginning…

Hello! So, I’m a performer. I act, sing, play musical instruments and dangle from various aerial circus contraptions (trapezes, silks, ropes, etc) whenever I get the chance. I’m also a Phd student, and my research is focused on performance… though try as I may to avoid it, a bit of philosophy keeps sneaking in as well. I am hoping to use this blog to help develop my voice as a researcher, and to discuss questions, themes and troubles in my research. Discussion is highly welcome, so please follow and comment! Oh!  Also, I’m registered blind (or legally blind for my American peeps). I state this not as inspiration porn; I’m not looking for sympathy or admiration. I mention it because it’s part of my research and my identity, and is therefore important. My research is based in…

It’s always a bit daunting to try and explain your research when you’re in the middle of it… often because you’re not quite sure what it is going to be yet. However, throughout these blogs, hopefully it will become clearer to everyone… including myself.

I will also state for the record that I do not want to become an academic that uses language that no one can understand… that being said, to a certain degree, dense wording is the language of the academic world. If you want to live in it, you have to learn to speak it. So I will occasionally throw words out there like “ocularcentric,” or “performativity” or “normative” or “phenomenological”. Needless to say, if I stop making sense, please tell me, and I will try to explain myself.

I won’t go too in depth about my research at the moment (every time I try I write a novel, which makes me think it needs its own blog) other than to say that I am looking at how disability, visual impairment in particular, interacts with various performance practices, processes and techniques. This is particularly interesting for me at the moment as starting Monday, I will be going into rehearsals for Graeae and The New Wolsey Theatre’s production of ThreePenny Opera by the lovely and very German Bertolt Brecht. Info for the show is here: http://www.graeae.org/productions/the-threepenny-opera/

Come and see if you can! I’ll be playing Jenny Diver, and I have to say, I’ve never been so excited to be classified as a hooker… or maybe I should say, “lady of the night”. A friend of mine once joked that the difference between a “slut” and “lady of the night” is the pay bracket… How she knows that is anyone’s guess. Anyway, I digress!

Graeae is a disability led theatre company with some unique and exciting ways of working and presenting theatre, and Brecht plays use a very specific style of performance, so this is a golden opportunity for me. I anticipate that I will get tons out of this experience, and hope you enjoy me sharing my findings as I go.

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7 thoughts on “The beginning…

  1. Recently, I accompanied a blind kindergarten student to a play. I an another adult provided verble information as to what was happening on the stage. Never the less, the student appeared board and had difficulty following the story. How do you think one should introduce the theatre to blind children?

    • What kind of show did you take the student to? If it was highly visual (most kids shows are) it might have been unimpressive to the student. It could also have been the description given. I don’t mean that in a rude way at all, I just mean to say that sometimes the way description is delivered can be confusing, especially if you are having to do it on the fly. For example, having two voices deliver info might be harder to follow. There is also such thing as “too much” info. Often the gist is better than tons of detail. You would be surprised how much one can infer from a little information. Have you looked into whether or not that show had audio described performances? That might have made the piece more accessible for your student, and the experience much easier on you and the other teacher. In future, I know this is a bit of a theatre faux pas, but if there is no AD for the show, maybe engage the student in a bit of descriptive conversation. “This character just did this, what do you think is happening?” Also, giving the student information before the play about who the characters are, a general idea of the set, etc. is very helpful. Theaters are also often happy to do touch tours of set and costume for visually impaired spectators, so maybe check on that in future as well. It makes the experience much more immersive, and will probably make the student feel special because s/he will get to go on the stage, etc. etc.

      For myself, I started getting into theatre by doing it. It wasn’t until I started acting in high school that I started enjoying watching people act or caring about theatre at all. I am not sure whether or not that had anything to do with blindness or my tastes at the time, but it might be a way in for your student. I hope that helps!

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