Classes and Workshops
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 discover how to remove these masks and understand how the resulting state of neutrality is useful to us as theatre makers and human beings.
Performing the Queer Explicit Body
• Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London, London, 2008, 2010, 2011
• Goldsmiths College, London, 2010
• Center Mario Mielli, Rome, Bologna,Milan, 2009
• Ohio State University, Sexuality Studies, Ohio, 2008,
The Body As Mask/Performance Generating Techniques
• Columbus State Undiversity, Ohio, 2008,
• Weisensee Art College, Berlin, Germany, 2008
• Edgy Festival Montreal 2008;
• Jackson’s Lane theatre London 2007;
• International Workshop Festival London 2006;
• Wise Thoughts London 2006 & 2007;
• Kisses Cause Trouble (Parisian Performance Troupe) Paris 2006;
• Performance Studies Department at Hull University, Hull, Britain 2006
The "Kleinkunst" Symmposium, Presenter, Central School of Speach and Drama at the Roundhouse, 2009
International Drag King Extravaganza
10 panel facilitator, Panel “Transmen On Stage”
IDKEX Columbus, Ohio, 2008
Recasting Gender, panel speaker
London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
Neo-Feminist Burlesque Symposium, Featured Speaker
Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London, London 2007
Directing Your Own Performance
Highways Performance Space,
Los Angeles 2006
Papers, Conferences, Publications
What You See is What You Get: Visuality and Trans Performance
'"I suggest constituting transsexuals not as a class or problematic 'third gender', but rather as a genre—a set of embodied texts whose potential for productive disruption of structured sexualities and spectra of desire has yet to be explored." 'The Empire Strikes Back: A Post Transsexual Manifesto, 1991
Since the late 1970’s Autobiographical performance has been an important form in which LGBTQ and other ‘Othered’ identities can become ‘visible’, share our stories and bring awareness to issues affecting our lives. These performances have also always run the risk of essentializing identities and entrenching narratives - thereby losing potency - particularly in our 21st century neoliberal identity culture. My research asks “what can the Trans bodily identity do onstage when it does not talk about the Trans condition” and I take my jumping off point from Sandy Stone in The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto (1991) when she suggests constituting Trans “[…] as a genre—a set of embodied texts whose potential for productive disruption of structured sexualities and spectra of desire has yet to be explored.” To this end I posit and explore the differences between ‘visible’ identity-based performances and what I establish as my own ‘visual’ (naked) Trans identity-based performance.
I explore here the idea that narrative ‘visibility’ in performance places the emphasis on the optical and the ‘viewed’ (the subject), and examine the foreclosure of possibility that I contend this can create. I will contrast this with the way performance that works with an idea of identity ‘visuality’ could redirect the emphasis onto the viewer and the haptic, and, in refusing to allow narrative to entrench, may incite Stone’s ‘productive disruption’. I will contextualize these ideas and findings via sections of my current Practice Research performance Trans-O-Graphia/Dance Me to the End of Love.
Kisses Cause Trouble Le Vrai Spectacle: Queering the French, Frenching the Queer, by Lazlo Pearlman
"In this chapter Pearlman explores the Parisian‘Trash Burlesque’ troupe Kisses Cause Trouble (‘Kisses’) via their 2009 theatrical show Le Vrai Spectacle. Pearlman considers the ways in which Kisses’ use of French artistic forms Grande Guignol (horror theatre) and Bande Dessinée (comic books, strips and graphic novels), and their subversion of ‘universalist’ French identity through Angela Stukator’s ‘unruly’ fat female body creates a New Burlesque en décalage – a term for distortion or deviation that in this theatrical context become a specifically French version of queering."
Forthcoming chapter for Queer Instruments: Local Practices and Global Queernesses. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
‘Dissemblage’ and ‘Truth Traps’: Creating Methodologies of Resistance in Queer Autobiographical Theatre:
Theatre Research International / Volume 40 / Issue 01 / March 2015, pp 88-91
See the PDF
In popular culture ‘Grotesque’ is most often considered synonymous with ugly, disgusting, and monstrous; the abject Other against which we define the Self. However, what most intrigues me about the Grotesque are the ways in which what it signifies, according to Sarah Cohen Shabot, is not a rejected other at all, but 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.” Can the/my Transbody onstage function as a theatrical illustration of the intersubjectivity of all bodies? All bodies and identities are double, hybrid, between living and dying, between and among genders. Could the Transbody, as the Grotesque, have the potential to create a heightened representation or experience of something that is, in fact, universal?
Presented at: Bodies: Flesh, Performance, Media, Disgust and Desire
June 21 2012, Birkbeck College, London
The body and the way it is represented is the focus of continuing debates about beauty, desire and disgust, respectability and reality. The mediation of bodies and the ways in which it is increasingly possible to refashion bodies through a range of technologies is a source of concern to many. The body in a state of transformation or transgression or as a site of self-control is the focus of many popular texts. Some kinds of bodies have come under particular scrutiny; those of fashion and glamour models; porn performers and 'perverts', showgirls and burlesque dancers. Ideal and freakish bodies excite intense fascination. This seminar investigates presentations and representations of a range of bodies and examines how we might read them. It is organized by the Onscenity Research Network and funded by the AHRC.
Paper: Stripping Bare and Telling Lies:
Looking at my own practice-as-research, this paper works through Michel Foucault’s ideas of bio-power and Judith Butler’s book Giving an Account of Oneself to then detail and explore the subversion of confessional culture via the use of the nude transsexual body and the technique of telling lies in “autobiographical” performance. As a female-to-male transsexual performer, there are expectations of me. Because I am using my body and my self as theatrical material, it seems I need to confess my identity, to give an account of the road I took to get to who I am. If I don’t confess, I am told, my audience won’t ‘understand’ my ‘other’ identity, and this must be the ultimate goal of performances by non-normative artists. But I don’t want to confess my identity, and I am not interested in making work about genders or sexualities. In this paper and in my performing work I use my naked transsexual body and the expectations of my trans identity to explore how the surprise of my body’s “truth” and the veil of the lie could be modes of generating experiences outside of, and indeed confounding to, confessional culture, experiences of intersubjectivity in my spectator-participants.
Presented July 5th, 2012 at a Conference on Confessional Culture that took place over two days (5th n 6th July) at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia:
Dolan Cummings, the editor of Culture Wars, describes confessional culture as "an increasing blurring between public and private, and a concern to expose and reveal our "true selves". Though the act of confession is nothing new, the rise of reality television and web 2.0 means our culture is increasingly publicising the private, and using the media to expose ourselves and others. The conference looked at the effect of confessional culture on a range of media and discourses, in order to understand and unpack the manifestations, history and impact of this growing and evolving phenomenon.