My teaching at Northumbria University focuses on Contemporary Theatre making practice and philosophy, actor training techniques, devising and physical theatre, cabaret and performance art, cultural and performance studies. I bring Queer, trans, ant-racist and decolonizing techniques and thinking into the classroom at every opportunity.
Over the years I have developed and delivered workshops and lectures to university, professional and community cohorts in the US, UK and EU, including the following:
Beyond The Pale with Amy Russel:
AN EMBODIED POETICS CO-LAB with Lazlo Pearlman and Amy Russell
Beyond the Pale: Transgression and Transcendence in Performance Art
Beyond the Pale is practical workshop in performing the “explicit” body. Everybody and every body is different. To perform “explicitly” is to make this difference known, palpable, relevant, and active. This explicit difference of each person is the grain of sand in the narrow, two-sided clam of hegemonic perception! As you work with the many-splendored devices of Performance Art, Lazlo Pearlman and Amy Russell will help you to create your own unique pearl!
Performing the Explicit Body is not necessarily about physical nakedness or revelation. It is about the ability to perform ourselves as others do not wish to see themselves: as being different. A perfect body performing or displaying itself perfectly or an imperfect body overcoming its limits – these are perceptions that the mainstream finds comforting, as they reinforce the binaries that are the dual engines of normative production: perfection and the redemption of imperfection.
Being an explicitly different body is a powerful performance tool. It has enormous potential as a disruptive force, challenging, among other things, normative notions of identity based in gender and sexuality, ethnicity, age, aesthetics, and ability.
In popular culture ‘Grotesque’ is most often considered synonymous with the ugly, disgusting, and monstrous - the abject Other against which we define the Self. However the word originates in the “grotto” – the ancient site of mystery and of nature’s hidden secrets.
What is hidden and secret about ourselves, what we fear will be judged, these are the powerful revelations that fuel creative performance and inform the subversive impact of Performance Arts. This grotesque self, according to Sarah Cohen Shabot, is in fact the postmodern subject, the actual ambiguous nature of existence itself: “interconnected, intertwined and total,” and at the same time “plural, heterogeneous, dynamic, fluid and changing.”
Performing the Explicit Queer Body:
Utilizing examples of my own work and that of some of my performing contemporaries in Western Europe and North America, this lecture/screening looks at the use and effectiveness of nudity and explicit sexual content in current Queer performance work.
The naked and explicit body onstage is a powerful performance tool. It has enormous potential as a disruptive force, challenging, among other things, normative notions of gender and sexual identities, sexualities, and the gendered gaze.
The naked body on stage is not always disruptive; in fact, it can be used as a reaffirmation of societal norms. It is perhaps the moment the naked body becomes explicit that disruption occurs, that our expectations are exploded. I will show slides and video of work that illustrates, in several ways, this explosion. The discussion will focus on the power that is unleashed in these disruptive moments.
This lecture looks at several artists whose work utilizes this strategy; through text, video, and still imagery. The duration of this lecture/demonstration can be one to two hours and includes up to 45 minutes of discussion
The Body As Mask – Gender, Identity and the theatrical state of play.
Explore and “play’ your identity- gender and otherwise - as a full body mask, through improvisation, observation and movement; the concept, critical theory and practice of Genderfuck; Grotesque-ing and Burlesquing the body, Dragging (King and Queen), and the discovery of the state of Neutrality.
What is identity, what is gender? Is it fixed and core, or is it mutable? Are the clothes we wear and the ways we move, relate and ‘act’ tools to announce to the world ‘who we are,’ what gender we are, what our sexuality is, our class, our background, our cultural allegiances, or are they a full body ‘Mask:’ our personal performativity, that shifts and changes as we maneuver through our lives and the world? Can we identify and capture our identity ‘masks,’ and make the wearing of them a playful and usable choice in the contexts of theatrical performance and our daily lives?
In this workshop students will explore and play with the personal identity and gender mask and through this, discover what could be core, what could be mutable, and how to enjoy and play with these, both on the stage and on the sidewalk. We will define and explore our individual masks of identity and gender, and what is it to wear someone else’s mask or the mask of the gender- or cultural- ‘other.’ We will explore to what extent we can remove these masks in order to experience the ways in which the resulting state of personalized "neutrality" is useful to us as theatre makers and human beings.