Dr Ella Parry-Davies, BA (Hons), MA, PhD

Job title

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow

Profile

In research and teaching, the question I continually pose is: what is performance doing here? This question demands working between action and analysis; between sustaining creative collaboration and reflecting through academic publications. As a British Academy postdoctoral fellow at Central, I am currently working in this way on a three-year project entitled ‘Home-Makers: Urban Expertise in the Philippine Diaspora’. I am facilitating homemakersounds.org, a collection of soundwalks recorded and co-edited with migrant domestic workers in the UK and Lebanon. You can download the soundwalks and go for a walk in the places of most significance to them, and can find out more through articles and radio broadcasts I’ve produced as a BBC and AHRC New Generation Thinker.

The project will also result in a monograph exploring the performative ways that female-identifying domestic and care workers from the Philippines create a sense of home while living and working in the UK and Lebanon, and the ways in which the cycle of migration shapes how returnees re-make their homes in the Philippines. 

My postdoctorate builds on my wider interest in the relationships between memory and transnational migration, and how performance works to express or intervene in these interlocking processes. Prior to joining Central I held a Visiting Fellowship at De La Salle University Manila, and my PhD was funded by a joint doctoral partnership between King’s College London and the National University of Singapore. My thesis addressed performances of cultural memory in two postcolonial and intensively migratory cities that I described as ‘ecologies of remembrance’: the Lebanese capital Beirut and the Southeast Asian city-state Singapore. Alongside this research, I co-convened Beirut: Bodies in Public in 2014, a three-day programme of performances in Beirut’s public spaces and conference activities at the American University of Beirut, supported by the international research network Performance Philosophy.

I have published on related topics in journals such as Theatre Journal, Performance Research, and the Journal of Nationalism and Ethnic Politics. I co-convene the PSi working group on Performance and Critical Social Praxis, and am an editor of Contemporary Theatre Review’s online platform Interventions. I co-created the King’s English blog at King’s College London in 2016, and from 2011-2014 I was Contributing Editor at Exeunt.

I have lectured and taught across theatre and performance; English and comparative literature; culture and media; and Liberal Arts at Central, the University of Warwick, King’s College London, Birkbeck College, the National University of Singapore and the University of Roehampton, and for the education charity The Brilliant Club. My training has been interdisciplinary, with a BA in Combined Arts at Durham University and an MA in Performance and Culture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives at Goldsmiths, University of London. I was born and grew up in Hackney, at the time London’s most ethnically diverse borough, and encountered theatre through working in stage design and object theatre in the UK and France. I speak French, advanced Tagalog and basic Arabic. With colleagues at Central I am working towards the project of anti-racist curricula and other practices in higher education.

Teaching Areas

  • 20th and 21st century theatre
  • Political performance, social and applied theatre
  • Histories of empire and migration
  • Place, nation and transnationalisms
  • Performance criticism and historiography

Research Areas

  • Travel, migration and transnational performance
  • Contemporary political and activist performance
  • Site-specific performance and spatial practices
  • Memory, historiography and performance documentation
  • Postcoloniality and critical race theory
  • Transnational feminism
  • Performance ethnography and interdisciplinary approaches
  • Theatre and performance pedagogy
  • Ethics and critical methodologies

Key Publications

2020 (in press). ‘Still Lives in Performance: Syrian Displacement and Care in Contemporary Beirut’, in Performing Care ed. James Thompson and Amanda Stuart Fisher (Manchester: Manchester University Press).

2019 (open access). ‘The Sea Is Not a Highway: Performing Maritime Histories in the Not-Quite-Global City’, Theatre Journal, 71.4.

2019 (film and article). ‘We Put the Tape Recorder on and Thought About the Sea: A Studio Visit with Karine Wehbé’, Theatre Journal 71.4 online content.

2019. ‘A Conversation on “Post-Brexit Eurocentrism" and Non-Eurocentric Pedagogy’, with Faisal Hamadah, Diana Damian Martin and Michael Shane Boyle, Contemporary Theatre Review Backpages 29.3.

2019. ‘Memory and War Museums in Lebanon: Memory, Violence and Performance’, with Craig Larkin, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 25.1.

2019. ‘Review: Ric Knowles, Performing the Intercultural City’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 29.1.

2019. ‘Stage Managing Ruins in Lebanon’s Borderlands’, in The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics, ed. Helena Grehan and Peter Eckersall (London and New York: Routledge).

2018. ‘Shadow/Boxing: A Soundwalk’, with Robyn Mayol, Contemporary Theatre Review Interventions, 28.4.

2017. ‘Towards Theatricality’, in Stop Here for Happy Holidays ed. Karine Wehbé and Zeina Assaf (Beirut: Commissioned by Ashkal Alwan and Sharjah Biennale).

2017. ‘Vulnerability and the Lonely Scholar’, with Felipe Cervera, Matthew Yoxall and Alvin Lim Eng Hui, Contemporary Theatre Review Interventions, 27.2.

2017. ‘Avignon Festival: On Failure and Responsibility’, Exeunt.

2017. ‘Just Women and Violence’, with Myka Abramson and Kélina Gotman, King’s English.

2016. ‘Acts of Annotation’, with Penny Newell and Merijn Royaards, Liminalities, 12.5.

2016. ‘Review: Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep’, Cinema Journal, 55.2, pp.177-82.

2016. ‘After Performance: On Transauthorship’, with Felipe Cervera, Matthew Yoxall and Alvin Lim Eng Hui, Performance Research, 21.5.

2015. ‘Siting Performance Philosophy: Positions, encounters and reflections at Beirut: Bodies in Public’, with Eliesh S.D., Performance Philosophy, 1.1, pp.255-64.

2015. ‘Postcards from Mindanao: Wayfaring and displacement in archipelagic space’, PSi#21 Fluid States: Performances of UnKnowing LOG. 

2014. ‘Storied Space: Epistemology and place in the performance museum’, Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts, 8.1, pp.15-28.

2014. ‘10 ways to make public engagement work for you’, with Penny Newell, Guardian Higher Education Network Blog.

Practice

Through my postdoctoral project ‘Home-Makers’, I am collaborating with domestic and care workers from the Philippines to produce a series of soundwalks at homemakersounds.org, which will guide you through spaces key to practices of home-making for migrant domestic workers. I co-founded the research collective After Performance in Singapore in 2015, and have worked with members Felipe Cervera, Alvin Lim Eng Hui and Matthew Yoxall on a series of ‘transauthorship’ writing experiments, resulting in publications for Performance Research (2016) and Contemporary Theatre Review Interventions (2017), and international workshops in London, Melbourne, Hamburg and Manila. Working across geo-cultural intersections (and time zones), we have sustained close collaboration as a form of concerted response to the political concerns faced by our cohort of scholars and practitioners, and as a way of rethinking the conventions of individual authorship in a field that studies fundamentally co-creative practices.

I have worked closely with artists in different parts of the world as a facilitator, curator and critic. I co-convened Beirut: Bodies in Public in 2014 with Eliesh S.D. (founder of the Lebanese Organisation du Développement Durable), which coordinated over sixty participants in a three-day programme of performances in public spaces in Beirut, alongside conference activities at the American University of Beirut. With its artist-in-residence, Dima el Mabsout, I went on to develop Fleeing and Forgetting, which she devised in 2015 as a response to the influx of over a million Syrian refugees into Lebanon.

I have also brought practitioners and academics together through the ‘Performance and Critical Social Praxis’ working group, whose major activity to date has involved devising a collaborative syllabus on Performance and Social Action with artists, scholars and students in the Philippines. This syllabus is designed to be contemporary and directly relevant to the Philippine context, but will also be transported and actively modified in other parts of the world, as a living and customisable tool for dialogic pedagogy.

As a theatre critic, I have published extensively with Exeunt and led interviews for TheatreVoice. Seeking to bring my engagement with arts practice into dialogue with scholarship, I co-founded Research with Reach in 2014 with Penny Newell at King’s College London, a training initiative that coordinated four intensive workshops and a conference with speakers including Peter Florence MBE (Hay Festival), Dr Jules Evans (BBC New Generation Thinker) and Nick Bradshaw (Sight and Sound).

Register of Interest

Nothing to declare.

E-mail

ella.parry-davies@cssd.ac.uk

Twitter

@EllaParryDavies