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Performing Women - A Familiar History

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Introduced by Professor Maggie B Gale, Manchester University.

In this performed lecture I trace a path through the shifting sands of material remains: the object, the family photograph, the familiar scrapbook and the half-remembered anecdote to take in the textual traces of bodies in performance, the grainy techno-coloured reminiscence of virtual histories, fleetingly present on the web and subject to erasure when interest wanes or when the last memory fades.

In dialogue with Frances Maria Kelly’s nineteenth-century performed autobiographical history Dramatic Recollections, family theatrical ephemera, and illustrated with materials from my own recovered performance in the ‘golden age’ of television drama, I will make connections between the micro-narratives of autobiographical performance and the meta-narrative of theatre history. Riffing (loosely) on Deleuze and Guattari’s model of the rhizome, I will re-member the ‘map’ of theatre history. With additional material from the radio voice[s] of Mabel Constanduros and other nearly forgotten faces of British comedy, (and a special appearance by a live rhizome), I will explore the potential for a model of women’s lived performance histories that is ‘always detachable, connectible, reversible’ celebrating the ‘multiple entryways and exits’ and re-membering their ‘own lines of flight’, so that the ‘tracings [are] put on the map’ and spectral metaphors give way to the more vibrant presence of the performed palimpsest. As my own past performances are written into the memories of fictional characters, the purposes of history take on ever more complex layers in the present experience of what has passed, and what is still to come for women in theatre.

The event is followed by a drinks reception.

Pictured above: Gilli Bush-Bailey, ‘Performing Herself’ at PSI #17, Utrecht, May 2011, with ‘Billie’ and Robbie the Robot in Here Come The Double Deckers (1970)


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Rehearsal Room 2

Event price

Free, but booking essential

Event dates

14 Jun 2017 -

6:30pm to 7:30pm

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