Performance Studies: Seas as Places & Performance, Ethnography, and ‘Practical Knowledge’
“Seas as Places”. | Associate Professor Ian Maxwell, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Sydney.
The paper draws upon Ed Casey’s work on place, and Mike Pearson’s use of the concept of choreography in “In Comes I” as an argument for thinking about the sea as place, rather than as an in-between.
Performance, Ethnography, and ‘Practical Knowledge’ | Dr Paul Dwyer, Senior Lecturer and Chair of Discipline, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Sydney.
Between 2005 and 2011, I devised and ended up performing all around Australia, as well as in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (Papua New Guinea), a work called The Bougainville Photoplay Project. This play was, in many ways, a more manageable, ‘meanwhile’ project to the wildly over-ambitious postdoctoral research I had initially envisaged—namely, an ethnographic study of the reconciliation ceremonies that people in Bougainville have been using to build peace in the wake of a brutal civil war. That said, the money I was able to set aside from my earnings as a performer ultimately supported the staging of a major reconciliation in Siwai district, South-West Bougainville, which I was able to document and have since written about.
While I would not want to claim that the Photoplay is, in and of itself, a work of ethnography, the relationships I made in fieldwork would not be what they were if I had not introduced the ancillary task of researching and devising a piece of theatre. Nor would the Photoplay be what it became as a performance without some attempt to engage explicitly with key debates in anthropology regarding ethnographic research methods. In this paper, I revisit some of these key epistemological and methodological concerns. In particular, I want to focus on the implications of Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of ‘critical reflexivity’ and ‘symbolic violence’ for practices of “Research-Based Theatre”.
Note: This paper is a reprise of the work I presented two weeks ago at the Symposium on “Research-Based Theatre” organised by our colleagues at CREATE (the Centre for “Creativity in Research, Engaging the Arts, and Transforming Education, Health and Wellbeing”) and co-hosted by Theatre and Performance Studies.
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