Family Tree by Dr. Mojisola Adebayo

Wednesday 29th June
Soft start at 18:30 BST with a presentation starting at 19:00 BST via Zoom 
Book on bit.ly/qm2906o

Family Tree: it’s a play, a performance, a ritual, about human farming, farming humans, soil and the soul, seeds and cells, selling cells in prison cells prizing open, dividing, multiplying, multi-million incisions, incarcerations, extractions and experimentations – woman-child-man, in the lab, on the slab, in the land, the plantation womb and bred’ren bred for bread, planting and planning escape from living-dead, plotting from the plot to the pot but for the dread of night doctors, organ raiders, head drillers, cigarette smoking cowboys, cops with hands in pockets and the Klu Klux Klan; it’s about cancer and capital, capitalism as cancer, cervical carcinoma in chicken culture (and the culture of chicken), compost and re-composition, giving of veins given in vain, philosophizing the threshold of black pain, inhospitable hospitals, monitored monetary mortuaries, eugenic medical obscenities, Mississippi appendectomies and the bad blood between us at Tuskegee, not-to-mention sugar addiction affliction, disease dis-ease, fibroids, obesity, HIV, vitamin D-deficiency, genes in jeans and cotton fields, cotton buds, cotton sheets and the unremembered history of gynaecology, implements’ implications, dissecting dissections, fertilizing fertility slash secret sterilizations, speculums, scalpels, swabs of women slaves, taking us right up to today, corona virus and giving-a-fuck-or-not about climate change. It’s about shaking the plastic money tree and out-falling Covid-19 onto a world that cannot breathe without change and cannot breathe without trees, where a woman in some African heaven hears her grown son calling “Mama… Mama…”… and she floats down… like leaves to the ground… lifts his face from the dirt… and carries her baby home… no more suffocation, pollution, asphyxiation… but the right to cellular respiration. It’s about the original ‘extinction rebellion’ from the ‘wretched of the earth’, ethics of the earth, risking the earth, dying of whiteness, dying to whiteness to witness: burial as a form of gardening. See three women come running loosening their plaits and shaking their Afros free scattering seeds to sew soul food to eat. It’s about where life grows, where a woman breathes life into an inner floating soul, drinking in, sustained in the Orisha of women, sweet water and unlocked-down hairdressers. It’s about finding a route home through the roots of the tree they made on your back, the tree you hung from, the tree of your lungs, the tree in your womb, a family tree. It’s about nursing the nursery, curing creation, remedies and vaccinations against white supremacist racism. It’s about birthing revolution, raising redemption, finding yourself in the forest of futurity, the promise of immortality and the matter of black lives. Featuring: Anarcha, Betsey and Lucy (the unremembered victim heroes of plantation gynaecology at the hands Dr Sims – pulled down from his plinth); starring: three Black NHS nurses – Ain, Bibi and Lyn, calling on the names of Doreen Lawrence and Fannie Lou Hamer, vibing with Beyoncé and bowing to the wisdom of Toni Morrison. With a surprise appearance by… Oh and there’s a cameo by the Man from Marlboro and in the leading role, the everlasting Henrietta Lacks. Rest in peace! Rise in peace! Rise in Power! 

Mojisola Adebayo (playwright, performer, producer, director and Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Contemporary Performance, at Queen Mary, University of London), will read extracts from her latest play, Family Tree with a discussion about the research process, from and through community gardens in Berlin graveyards, to a former hospital in South London and petri dishes in science labs. This practice-as-research project is part of her White Climate: Afriquia Literatures and Agri/cultural Practices research fellowship, at University of Potsdam, Germany.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you online!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Act as a Feminist: Towards a Critical Acting Pedagogy

by Lisa Peck (University of Sussex)

Wednesday 8th June

Soft start at 18:30 BST with a presentation starting at 19:00 BST via Zoom and in-person in RR2 in ArtsOne on QMUL campus.

For in-person, book on bit.ly/qm0806ip

For online, book on bit.ly/qm0806o

At this cultural moment what does freedom mean in relation to performer training practices? In Maggie Nelson’s On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint she problematises the word freedom whose meaning is not universal or self-evident, citing Foucault’s call for ‘practices of freedom’ as the ongoing work needed to agitate against the mechanisms of Advanced Capitalism. The current outcry against systems of oppression and acts of abuse in actor training institutions demands a radical revisioning of what training is, who it is for and how it happens; time to look for different ways to navigate, different architectures and different materials. Whilst at its worst training can enact forms of violence, working from a ‘no pain no gain’ principle, at its best training might allow actors to enable and produce practices of freedom.

I propose that we reorientate ideas around training as critical pedagogy, concerned with enabling choice and agency. Over the last decade my research has mapped an alternative female genealogy of training, looking at the practice of women practitioners through the lens of feminist pedagogies. My focus has been the politicising potential of training, working from Eve Sedgwick’s alternative ‘beside thinking’ to consider the personal and social knowledges of acting learnt beside technique. What, for instance, happens when we consider gender as technique? This talk places feminist epistemologies and ontologies beside each other to consider new materialist constructs through practice. I explore how Rosi Braidotti’s ‘positivity of difference ‘, ‘vital materiailsm‘ and Karen Barad’s ‘agential realism’ might sharpen the critical potential of training. Referencing my own work with students I consider how performing gesture can work as feminist action.

Lisa Peck is Senior Lecturer in Theatre Practice at the University of Sussex and Associate Tutor at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Over two decades she has worked as a teacher, theatre-maker, teacher educator and education consultant for the National Theatre and Digital Theatre Plus. She is co-founder of RAPT (Research, Artistry, Participation, Theatre) which makes multi modal public artworks. Her research intersects social science and humanities to explore critical pedagogies in theatre-making and actor training. She has published in Theatre Dance and Performance Training and Stanislavski Studies. Her monograph: Act As A Feminist: Towards A Critical Acting Pedagogy, published by Routledge in 2021, maps a female genealogy as an alternative to traditional male lineages in training. She is currently working on a new monograph titled Emma Rice’s Feminist Acts of Love for Cambridge University Press.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What has theatre ever done for us? A bastard theatre against nation

by Dr Jonas Tinius (Minor Universality ERC, Saarland University)

Wednesday 4th May

Soft start at 18:30 BST with a presentation starting at 19:00 BST via Zoom and in-person in RR2 in ArtsOne on QMUL campus.

For in-person, book on bit.ly/qm0405ip

For online, book on bit.ly/qm0405o

In this talk, I will reflect on more than ten years of engagement with the Theater an der Ruhr, a public-private theatre founded in the early 1980s by the Italian philosopher, actor, director, and clown Roberto Ciulli and two companions, the dramaturge and philosopher Helmut Schäfer and the late stage designer Gralf-Edzard Habben. Since its outset, the theatre has reacted against the aesthetic and political overdetermination of artistic production by a statist cultural logic. This theatre formed labour conditions and a proto-universal stage philosophy of a bastard theatre without fatherland and mother tongue.

Jonas Tinius is a socio-cultural anthropologist and associate member at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMAH), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He is currently a scientific coordinator and postdoctoral researcher in cultural anthropology in the ERC project, Minor Universality. Narrative World Constructions After Western Universalism. After studying archaeology and anthropology, he received his PhD (University of Cambridge, 2016) for an ethnography of German theatre and migration. Together with Margareta von Oswald, he is the editor of Across Anthropology: Troubling Colonial Legacies, Museums, and the Curatorial (Leuven University Press, 2020, open-access) and Awkward Archives. Ethnographic drafts for a modular curriculum (Archive Books, 2022).

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Notes on Gesture, Response-ability, and the Interstice

by Professor Rebecca Schneider (Brown University)
Wednesday 13th April
Soft start at 18:30 BST with a presentation starting at 19:00 BST via Zoom.
Book your free ticket on bit.ly/qm1304o

Thinking about media such as film, performance, and photography as gestural, Schneider draws on Black Feminist Through and materialist phenomenology to consider flesh as responsive materiality, given to transposition — the viscous, reverberant, and interstitial substance of our ongoing afterlives in the age of bioeconomic Man. Among artworks and actions addressed may be Glenn Ligon’s Hands, Carrie Mae Weems’s Monument, Laura Aquilar’s Grounded #111, and Schneider’s own daily walk while white to her office through a Triumphal Arch on unceded Narragansett territory. The talk is incomplete, composed of incommensurable parts, and pitched towards discussion. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized