Caminante, no hoy camino,
Se hace camino al andar
Walker, there is no road,(Machado 2004, 280–1)
The road is made by walking
To an extent, all Practice-as-Research projects require some elements of first-person inquiry whether this self-reflective questioning is the aim and purpose of the research project as a whole or an aspect of the processes of documentation. Marshall and Mead, coming from an action research perspective, consider ‘self-reflective practice of some kind as foundational for all forms of inquiry’ (Marshall and Mead 2005, 238) because it is important that researchers have some awareness of their relationship to the issues being investigated and are able to engage in a process of critical reflection on their cognitive and affective responses. A danger with any kind of introspective approach is that what is encountered in the process becomes taken as a given, something that is not open to further inquiry by oneself or others. Further inquiry here involves unfolding the intricacy of our experiencing in more detail and being aware that it is possible to engage with our experiencing in different ways. A key requirement of a first-person approach is that the researcher maintain an openness to their experiencing and carry forward an awareness that first-person knowledge is always, in some sense, partial and subject to change. In addition, the myth of the lone researcher delving into the processes of their own experiencing, developing performance material out of it, and then reflecting on it in isolation doesn’t necessarily provide an adequate testing of the process or the material. There are important benefits to be had from sharing all aspects of the process with other researchers, audiences, and supervisors/mentors, not the least of which is the demand that the researcher locate their work within the research field and articulate – whether through words or other actions – the relationship of their research to the writings and practices of others. This certainly isn’t to suggest that working alone should be avoided or that careful thought shouldn’t be paid as to when and where to share.
In the following text, I adopt a first-person perspective working with momentary experiencing, memory, and reflection in an attempt to model the kinds of things we might do at the beginning of our research. The text was initially written in one sitting, and I could have left it as it was and then added additional text in a different colour or font to show the gradual building-up of the text that appears now. I chose, however, to offer the illusion of a more coherent text, because I thought it would give more of a sense of the work as improvisation.
From the moment I sit and begin to write, my creative practice is writing. I may, on occasion, get up from my desk and improvise and bring the results of that improvisation to the keyboard, but the material that is communicated to the reader comes through the practice of writing. What I aim to do is to nudge the reader into taking up their own writing practice, but also to use their responses to what I’ve written to generate other practices. In the text below, there are some exercises which I invite the reader to try (or to invent new ones in response).
As soon as I sit down to write this chapter I start asking myself the question: “What do I know?”. No matter that I have written an abstract and know what it is that I’ve agreed to write, I start to doubt myself. I doubt that I have anything to say that can be useful, that all I will be doing is regurgitating ideas, critical analyses, and processes that have been published by others elsewhere in books and articles by inter alia Nelson 2013; Kershaw and Nicholson 2011; Barrett and Bolt 2010; Bacon and Midgelow 2014; Trimingham 2002; or Smith and Dean 2009. I always want to write Hazel & Dean for the last two – I’m sure I say it sometimes – and I imagine that they are an ice skating duo gouging out their diagrams and texts with their blades on the ice, the markings then photographed and published in the introduction to their jointly edited collection of essays (Smith and Dean 2009, 20).
For those who don’t know, between 1978 and 1984, the ice skating duo Torvill & Dean (the ampersand is part of how they – still – style themselves) won fourteen gold medals at the Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships, and the British Figure Skating Championships. The Oxford Dictionary of Dance reminds us that, when Torvill & Dean won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Winter Games, they did so with a ‘free dance’ to a recording of Ravel’s Bolero, were awarded a perfect score, and ‘revolutionised ice dancing’ (Craine and Mackrell 2010, 454).
I puzzle myself, and possibly the reader, by introducing Torvill & Dean at this point. It started with an error I occasionally make – combining Hazel Smith’s first name with Roger T. Dean’s family name – but this is the first time I’ve ever put that in writing. It’s a mistake, after all – something to be corrected and edited out. But it also triggered the image of a hybrid entity – Torvill & Dean and Smith and Dean – that playfully combines rigorous academic research with highly-disciplined professional practice: an exemplary model for PaR. But a moment’s googling reminds me that Torvill & Dean were amateurs until after 1984, and that invites us to consider what we mean by ‘professional practice’. Merrifield calls for a revaluation of the ‘amateur’ and what he sees as ‘a struggle not to fit into a standardised mould’ (Merrifield 2017, 20) and to resist the idea that we all have to shape ourselves into professionals or be ‘losers’. He reminds us, in the title of his book, that amateurs are those who do what they love. Whatever use you may make of this resource and whatever direction your research takes you in, I hope that you are able to keep a strong relationship with what you love, or make a new connection with what you love, or find a new love altogether; but whichever it is, resist squeezing it (and yourself) into a standardised mould. Of course we need to develop appropriate methodologies and forms for our research and demonstrate that we know what’s available in the field, but we also need to look for ways in which we can expand the methodologies to support our creative work.
When you come to the exercises below, it is – of course – up to you whether you do them or not, but I invite you to be curious, and if you notice an unwillingness to try an exercise, give some attention to what is going on in your body. Actually, I invite you to pay attention to your somatic responses not only when you encounter the exercises but throughout the whole chapter. What happens in you in response to what I write – and the ideas, images, sensations, that unfold in you – are at least as important than my words on the page. I encourage you to document what you discover in writing, drawing, recording, or any other medium that appeals to you. If you have the opportunity to take this text into a studio or any other space where you have room to move and/or make sound, do so: explore the impulses that come to you in response to the text, whatever they may be. Try the same with any text that is relevant to what you want to work on – treat every text as a potential pretext for creative practice and for critical reflection in/on that practice.
I often tell myself a story about going into the studio or starting to type or write or paint. It begins with the idea of an empty space or a blank page. It’s a common story, one version of which is expressed by Rosemary Lee:
I am in an empty beautiful studio. I feel a sanctity in the tabula rasa, the unspoilt nature of emptiness and silence. It is to me the essence of beauty, quiet stillness. So why disturb this fragile sacred place? Isn’t anything I do just going to mess it up? (Lee 2016, 164)
But today I tell a different story: there is no tabula rasa for me, the space carries the traces of its history like a magic slate keeps the imprints of the marks that were erased. The space is palimpsestuous – to adopt and adapt Michael Alexander’s term (Hutcheon 2013, 6) – and is haunted by previous actions that have occurred there, actions which leave physical and atmospheric traces (real or imagined). It has hooks that catch my senses and evoke associations, projections, and memories – especially if it is a space that I regularly work in. Some days, I know how to work in that space, even if I don’t know what I’m doing. I can start, like Jonathan Burrows, with the idea that [I] ‘know how to dance’ (Burrows 2010, 1). Or, indeed, carry out any other creative practice.
But on other days, I’m not sure that I do know how to dance, or do anything at all – at least not with the expertise which confers the ‘smooth, unreflective mastery of complex but familiar domains’ (Claxton 2000, 35). I might know what I want to do or, maybe, just have an inkling of what I want to do, but simply not believe that I have the skills to carry it out. It’s possible that my belief is true. Perhaps I don’t have the skills to carry out the project, in which case I need to determine whether or not I can gain the skills as part of my project. If I neither possess the skills nor have the possibility within the time available, I’ll need to change my project.
Practice research doesn’t allow us to simply assume that we know anything. We are encouraged to explore our implicit assumptions and the ways that these are intricately enfolded into our practice and the consequences of these assumptions for our research project and its reception. Getting at these implicit assumptions and frames can be difficult, because they are often ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that we don’t notice since we implicitly take them as the ground of our understanding of the world.
There is a story below; it’s the story of a process written as it occurred, but made smoother and more linear that in its emergence. I have started with a story of an event from nearly forty years ago and use it as a point of departure for modelling how I might start generating a research project from the fragments. As I wrote, the project began to shape itself in a particular direction, and I followed that. The trick in reading it is to find and follow a new project for you or to discover something in the margins of your current project. I have tried to start – from a non-academic, non-scholarly place – to try to weave in some of those things necessary to begin to transform it into a research project, rather than just a piece of creative practice.
In the summer of 1982, I received a phone call from a friend who managed a small pub theatre – she’d just had a cancellation and needed to fill a slot that evening. She was aware that, together with two other performers, I had been performing a short play at various places, and she wondered if, at such little notice, we would be willing to perform it in her venue. I contacted the other two, and they each said they’d rather not but that they would do it if the other would. I took that as a ‘no’ and called the venue to say that I would do something on my own. That evening in the pub theatre, I performed a 30-minute comedy solo comprised of a very brief dramatisation of our conversation, an attempt to perform the three-hander on my own, and then storytelling adaptions of two traditional Nasrudin tales and two stories from Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon. I scripted and prepared the adaptations in the (roughly) four hours between the initial phone call and the performance slot and was pleased with the results. This was my first solo piece, and one thing I remember is an audience member coming up to me afterwards and saying that she found the juxtaposition of humour and suicide in one of the Anger stories disturbing and wondered about the ethics of making comedy out of suicide.
I had no concept of PaR when I made the show, and it was made completely free of any institutional or research agenda. I didn’t know anyone who was taking the Nasrudin tales and reworking them in a contemporary idiom (and certainly not in a first-person narrative voice). Nor did I know of anyone working with the Hollywood Babylon material in that manner. Even worse (or better), I was ignorant of anyone using autobiographical material in a similar way. I was blissfully ignorant, and if someone were to say to me that my work reminded them of someone else’s, then that was interesting, but I had no fear that someone might have done something before me, or better than me. No one was grading my work (or at least if they were, it had no actual relevance to me) nor demanding a critical essay.
I didn’t possess any formal qualifications in drama, dance, music, or any other performance genre in 1982. No O Levels, BTECs, A Levels, LAMDA grades, or anything else – I did have a Grade 5 in clarinet, I think, although I have no memory of taking the exam. What I knew about performance came from a young people’s theatre group I belonged to, local amateur theatre (brilliant for learning basic stagecraft, technical skills, set building, etc.), playing with experimental music ensembles and fringe theatre companies, participating in workshops with dancers, mime artists, and jugglers, etc. I knew how to perform (at least I thought I did) and did so simply out of my own intrinsic motivation (something which I shouldn’t leave unexamined in an academic paper).
Read to the end, noting anything that resonates with you as you go, then make your choice.
You might like to recall the last time you created a performance without an economic, educational, or research imperative. It can be a five-minute disposable piece or a major piece of work that has changed the field (or anything in between), but it should be something you felt free to make or not. Recall, if you can, the atmosphere of having that freedom, breathe it in, and allow yourself to follow any creative impulses that emerge: write, dance, sing, speak, act, draw, paint, play your instrument – whatever mode works for you.
Perhaps you have never experienced this freedom, and your creative activity has always been framed within an institutional context (I imagine that is a more common situation now than it was 30 years ago). Allow yourself to imagine what this might be like, and follow the instructions above.
It is possible – as you explore the above exercise and, especially, if you feel that you have never experienced the kind of freedom that I am describing – that you feel a resentment of the privilege that allows someone to make work without financial worries. Please put that aside for the moment. The aim here is to remember/imagine the feeling of that freedom and be able to return to it.
If you do feel a resentment or anger, don’t put it aside, explore it – that might be the heart of your new project.
It’s not difficult for me to go back through the material I worked on for the 1982 show – or even a number of other experiences in performance during that part of my life – and select a focus for a research inquiry, or even several research inquiries, and start developing a PhD project. I might, for example, develop a project on ‘Performing Autobiography’ or on ‘Laughter and Suicide’ or maybe on ‘Adapting Nasrudin for Contemporary Performance’.
Of the three identified possibilities, the first seems too broad and would need narrowing down a little. If I’m going to make an autobiographical work, is it going to be about a particular event or theme in my life? How would it connect to other people? Will it be an intimate piece? Will it be explicit or abstract? What performance skills will I draw on? Have I made an autobiographical piece before? What audiovisual materials do I have access to that might be useful to explore?
Thinking about starting an autobiographical performance now, the first publications that spring to mind are Dee Heddon’s Autobiography and Performance (2008) and Tami Spry’s Body, Paper, Stage: Writing and Performing Autoethnography (2011), and the work of performers such as Spalding Gray, Deb Margolin, Bobby Baker, Annie Sprinkle, and Tim Miller. A quick library search for scholarly and peer reviewed articles on ‘performing autobiography’ resulted in 12,271 hits, so I’d have to narrow my search criteria considerably. I do have an autobiographical project that I’m working on at the moment, but I don’t want to say much about that here for a number of reasons, including ethical ones that are currently unresolved. So putting that to one side, I ask myself what there is about me that might help narrow my search. The first thing that comes to mind is something to do with the fact that my mother is Gibraltarian, and mulling it over a little as I boil a kettle for a cup of tea, I wonder about how my sense of a masculine identity was shaped. I know, from teaching the plays of Lorca, that there is material on Andalusian masculinity, such as the classic study by Julian Pitt-Rivers, entitled The People of the Sierra (1954). More recently, David Gilmore published a book-length ethnographic study on circum-Mediterranean masculinity – Manhood in the Making: Cultural Concepts of Masculinity (1990) – but is there anything specifically on Gibraltarian masculinity? Is it distinctive from Andalusian masculinity? Does it fit neatly into Gilmore’s model? Searching for peer-reviewed material again, I find a single essay that examines masculinity in Gibraltar (Peake 2014) and one on primiparous women in Gibraltar that makes passing reference to Andalusian masculinity (Sawchuk et al. 1997). Plank (2013) offers a consideration of how Gibraltar became British during the eighteenth century, and this might offer a clew for me to follow in the entanglement of Gibraltarian and English aspects of my heritage. This doesn’t seem to me to be quite what Bridges and Pascoe refer to when they discuss recent conceptions of ‘hybrid masculinities’ which involve the ‘selective incorporation of elements of identity typically associated with various marginalised and subordinated masculinities and – at times – femininities into privileged men’s gender performances and identities’ (Bridges and Pascoe 2014, 246). But I’m intrigued by their work on hybrid masculinity and have a feeling that this could be a rich area and offer a different way of critically examining my experiences and narratives within the sociocultural contexts in which I have lived.
In the process of working on this section, I stand up and walk around, I remember visiting Gibraltar for the first time in 1962. How strange everything felt, looked, smelt with my grandparents and other family members gathered around in the kitchen of the small apartment in Tank Ramp to meet us. I began to cry. I remember that I was wearing a short-sleeved red shirt, similar but not identical to the one my dad was wearing. The next morning, I was looked after by the youngest of my mum’s sisters and we went out to the shop to buy some condensed milk, I think. I remember a contrast between the physical and emotional claustrophobia I experienced the previous night and the sense of space, freedom, and wonder the next morning as I went outside.
As I typed the last sentence I came to a stop. I’m on the edge of tears. No, that’s not quite right. There is something tearful there, but I’m not on the edge of it. I have a choice here: I can put my attention elsewhere, or I can turn my attention inward to the place in my body where the ‘something tearful’ is emerging (Gendlin 1996, 16–17). I follow my breath into my torso. A sense of ‘fullness’ is there – a bundle, no, a knot of feelings and associations: gratitude, loss, love, joy. I notice that these are all feelings which can be accompanied by tears and the sense of tearfulness intensifies. I have choices at this moment. I can choose to stay with that knot of sensations and begin to find a way of giving external form to what is there in my chosen medium, or I can do nothing at all.
I imagine that the scene with my family in the kitchen is caught in a black and white photograph – not an early 1960s family snapshot, but one with strong contrasts and atmosphere. There are, in fact, no photographs of that moment; this is something that my memory imagines (or my imagination remembers) in order to hold the intensities of that moment. It doesn’t stand for that knot of feelings and associations, but may offer a gateway later (if I decide to develop this project outside of these pages).
In the network of images, sensations, and feelings that occur as I remember that moment, I wonder how to select the ones that are most related to my project on masculinity. It seems obvious to me that I should start with the little boy in the crowded kitchen, dressed in his red shirt to be like his dad, crying, fifteen hundred miles from home. Or do I bring it closer? I start with me crying, a long way from home…
So far, everything I’ve mentioned in beginning my autobiographical performance project appears uncontroversial, but there are a number of things to be considered: What about the ethics of autobiography? Who will I be representing and how? What is the purpose of the work? Does the audience need to know that the work is autobiographical? What should be excluded, if anything? Am I selecting material to make myself look good, or clever, or cool, or desirable? There are also more detailed questions about people: How did they move? What was a typical, recurrent gesture? How did they speak – not just the sound quality of their voices, but also the content of their speech? At one moment, I imagine myself back in the apartment in Tank Ramp. I see my grandfather sitting there and feel a warm breeze from the open balcony. I sit in his place; as I sit and try to sense my way into his body shape, he begins to blend with my memories of Anthony Quinn playing the protagonist in Cacoyannis’s film Zorba The Greek (1964), which came out slightly later. A memory comes of him smoking with a cigarette holder. I’m not sure whether I make up his action of holding it between thumb and forefinger, of biting down on it with his teeth, but something seems right about these. Shall I ask other people who remembered him and try and make it as accurate as possible from the different perspectives, or shall I trust the figure in my memory? In terms of my project, does it make any difference whether I remember or imagine or both? In response to these questions, I search online for ‘Gibraltar images 1962’. I find a British Pathé publicity film and try to find a way to connect the images and the narrative to my memories. Just over seven minutes into the film, there he is, my grandfather squinting into the sun, wearing his checked flat cap, cigarette holder in the right-hand corner of his mouth with what looks like a hand-rolled cigarette burning. He’s just there for a few seconds with no commentary but part of a passage on local fishermen…
I’m not sure how this will progress, but I know that I’m interested in the possibilities identified by Heddon:
Performing stories about ourselves might enable us to imagine different selves, to determine different scripts than the ones that seem to trap us […] Devising a performance out of the material of personal experience might enable new thoughts into the relationship between experience and structures of power, between identity and its formation (and reformation). Performing the personal in public might allow a connection between the performer and the spectator, encouraging the formation of a community or prompting discussion, dialogue, and debate. The performance environment might well be a space of learning, the act a pedagogical one (for both performer and spectator) […] This is just some of the work that autobiographical performance might do. (Heddon 2008, 157)
Yet, as Heddon goes on to warn, autobiographical performance might do any or all of these things, but there is no necessity that it should or will. There’s nothing intrinsic to autobiographical performance that means that it cannot be used to fuel hatred and revenge, for example. This is possibly true of any performance genre – even Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed – but, as Heddon points out, the risks of this happening are ‘lessened by an informed and thoughtfully critical and self-conscious practice’ (Heddon 2008, 158). Spry suggests that such a practice can be developed by ‘examining one’s social/cultural/political standpoint within the context’ (Spry 2011, 13). Of course, if our intention is to fuel hatred and revenge, there is nothing in the form itself that would prevent us from doing so.
I selected the autobiographical project, you will recall, from three potential projects that I identified from the rapidly-made pub theatre solo from 1982. The autobiographical component of the performance was very slight indeed, almost non-existent, and as I was considering the three possibilities, it seemed to me that either of the other two projects would be more interesting topics to start a PhD on! The style I’ve chosen to write this paper in, however, seems to be best suited to the autobiographical project. In one sense, the starting point for all three projects was autobiographical, because they came from a story about an event in my life. However, the subsequent exploration of either of the other two topics might have resulted in a more distanced narrative voice than I intended. That’s a guess, though; I really don’t know. It could also be because I had more references to hand when writing about autobiography.
What I have been attempting to do here is to begin to model and document a first-person approach to a creative research process that playfully moves between different registers – from intimate memories to practical questions and academic reflection. Starting from a memory of practice that was outside of the academy, was only research in the narrowest sense, and not only failed to locate itself within a specific lineage but was unaware of the lineage to which it might be said to belong – unless we call it the ‘accidental lineage’. Nelson notes the importance of PaR being located in a lineage of practices:
If we wish to claim that our praxis manifests new knowledge or substantial new insights, the implication is that we know what the established knowledge or insights are. […] it means that we know what other artists in the domain have achieved historically and, in particular, what other practitioner-researchers in the field are currently achieving. (Nelson 2013, 31)
In order to meet Nelson’s requirement, we don’t have to start self-consciously placing our work within a specific lineage. It’s obviously helpful if we start our project knowing where it sits within our field and can say how our work links to what other artists are doing or have done in the past, but this knowledge can also emerge during the process.
Remember a performance that you have made or participated in or watched. It doesn’t matter what kind of performance it was, nor is its quality particularly significant (unless it is its quality that particularly interests you). To begin with, I suggest that you do this in a very open way – without intentional reference to a project you are currently working on – and then see if you discover unexpected connections.
In your memory, what is it about that performance that grabs your attention? It could be the performance as a whole or a very small detail. It might be something that thrilled, puzzled, amazed, infuriated, saddened, frightened, or troubled you (or any combination of the above). Try not to intellectualise – you want to try to get a sense of how this lives in your body now. Staying with your experiencing of that, allow yourself to begin to create a short performance (around five minutes in length) in response. It can be in any genre you like and doesn’t have to bear any outward resemblance to the source. This is not an adaptation process where we might want the spectator to be able to recognise the source, but a creative response – it is a pretext for your own creative practice.
When you have a piece that you are happy with, continue to work on it until you can repeat it confidently. Then document your process and reflect on any relevance this might have to your ongoing project. Perhaps, on reflection, the work you’ve generated has no obvious link to your current project but does suggest an interesting new one (but beware of distractions).
A variation of this exercise is to ask yourself the question: ‘Is there anything in my experience of attending the performance that can help me with my current project?’, and pay attention to what comes up.
The above exercise emerged out of a task I gave myself in 2003. I wanted to make a piece that was a response to a PaR project, a piece of critically self-conscious practice. I watched Robert Daniels’ solo performance Playing With Myself, and there was an action that stuck in my mind because I couldn’t conceive of how it was done. It wasn’t simply a case of ‘I don’t know how to do this’ but of ‘I don’t see how it is possible to do this’. So, I went into the studio, lay face-down on the floor, and tried to jump through my arms to a sitting position. I started with my arms by my sides, then brought them ‘up’ so that the palms of my hands were face-down on the floor at shoulder level. If you’re familiar with the bhujagasana (cobra pose) in Hatha Yoga, you might recognise the starting point (see, for example, Judith 2015, 76–7). Yes, I could start to move into the cobra pose, but that had little to do with the action I was trying to carry out: lying face down on the floor, bringing my hands up to my shoulders, pushing my palms into the floor, and making the leap through to sitting. For a while, I lay unable to move; the more I tried to work it out, the more paralysed I became. I simply couldn’t work it out conceptually. Eventually I gave up thinking about it and did it. Once I had managed it, I could repeat it easily. Whilst this was all very exciting and added to my skills, I was simply learning to do something that someone else had done. The fact that I had learned to do something new for myself wasn’t creating any original insights or new knowledge that I could share with anyone else. I had neither the skill nor the desire to attempt a new extension of this action, nor did I have a sense of what was already being done.
As I think about this action fifteen years after I first witnessed it, I still have no idea what I might do for the action itself to yield up new knowledge or substantial insights. I wonder if there might be something to be gained in exploring why there doesn’t seem to be any extension to the action, but I imagine that it would be a dead end. There are always dead ends. Or there are things that seem like dead ends and then someone goes along and sees a new possibility.
Leaping through my hands was only starting point. The aim was to make a performance that was a response to Daniels’ performance and use that as a way of examining the idea of PaR thorough performance. It evolved over three years, and for a short while, we performed as a double bill with me performing my response before he performed his piece. Eventually my performance developed into Interruptions, a piece where I tried to incorporate responses to the performance within it. I inserted three moments in the piece where I invited the audience to ask questions about the research process, make observations, ask to see moments again, redirect a section, or perform a response themselves. The question for me was where the critical discussion about the issues in the performance was to take place, would it be after the performance? Or could it take place within the frame of the performance? In Boal’s Forum Theatre, there is the transformation of the spectator into a ‘spectactor’, but the spectactor has to make a dramatic contribution, not engage in any kind of theoretical discussion, or redirect the action. During one performance of Interruptions, an audience member said she felt that the performance had been ‘hijacked’ – that somewhere the performance had been lost and replaced by the interruptions, or – perhaps more accurately – the direction of the performance had been changed by the interruptions. But she later said she felt she’d learned something new about performance from this experience.
One tactic I use when I am working in the studio on my own is to place an empty chair where I imagine my critic is sitting. If, when I’m working, I become distracted by an internal critical voice, or I get stuck, I will sit in the chair and speak as the critic. Sometimes I enter into a dialogue with him (my critic is definitely male), and sometimes I just listen. The next exercise is adapted from my usual practice to make it a little less risky.
Bring to mind a teacher or peer whose opinion of your work you value and who has a supportively critical attitude to your work. It could be your supervisor. Place an empty chair in the studio for them. Sit in the chair from time to time and review your work from this person’s perspective. Pay attention to what is said, and ask for clarification if necessary. This is an imaginary figure, and the aim is to give yourself a different perspective on your work. The point isn’t to try to make work to please this figure (but if you notice that is what you’re doing, give yourself some time to reflect on that).
I usually do this exercise by embodying and voicing my internal critic, but it’s possible that, for some people, the critic might manifest in an abusive way and cause some considerable distress. Look after yourself. I think that the variation above should achieve the aim of the exercise.
When I’m working on student projects, I have no idea what is going to emerge between us in the dialogue between project, student, and supervisor. I don’t want to hijack the student’s project but to assist with the investigation and articulation of its intricacies. I can offer advice and suggestions for readings, exercises, people to contact, and methodologies to consider. I can give feedback on practical work and ask questions that help researchers deepen their work. But, ultimately, the road can only be made by walking.
Reference List and Additional Resources
Anger, Kenneth. 1981. Hollywood Babylon. New York: Dell.
Arye, Lane. 2001. Unintentional Music. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing.
Atkinson, Terry, and Guy Claxton, eds. 2000. The Intuitive Practitioner: on the value of not always knowing what one is doing. Buckingham: The Open University Press.
Bacon, Jane and Vida Midgelow. 2014. “Creative Articulations Process (CAP).” Choreographic Practices 5 (1): 7–31.
Bannerman, Christopher, Joshua Sofaer and Jane Watt, eds. 2006. Navigating the Unknown: The Creative Process in Contemporary Performing Arts, London: ResCen/Middlesex University Press.
Barrett, Estelle and Barbara Bolt, eds. 2010. Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry. London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
Boal, Augusto. 2008. Theater of the Oppressed (New Edition). London: Pluto Press.
Bridges, Tristan and C.J. Pascoe. 2014. “Hybrid Masculinities: New Directions in the Sociology of Men and Masculinities.” Sociology Compass 8 (3): 246–58.
Burrows, Jonathan. 2010. A Choreographer’s Handbook. London: Routledge.
Craine, Debra and Judith Mackrell. 2010. The Oxford Dictionary of Dance (2nd Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Claxton, Guy. 2000. “The Anatomy of Intuition.” In The Intuitive Practitioner, edited by Terry Atkinson and Guy Claxton, 32–53. Buckingham: The Open University Press.
Gendlin, Eugene T. 1996. Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy: A Manual of the Experiential Method. New York: The Guilford Press.
Gilmore, David. 1991. Manhood in the Making: Cultural Concepts of Masculinity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Heddon, Deirdre. 2008. Autobiography and Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hutcheon, Linda. 2013. A Theory of Adaptation (2nd Edition). Abingdon: Routledge.
Judith, Anodea. 2015. Anodea Judith’s Chakra Yoga. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Press.
Kershaw, Baz and Helen Nicholson, eds. 2011. Research Methods in Theatre and Performance. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Lee, Rosemary. 2006. “Expectant Waiting.” In Navigating the Unknown, edited by Christopher Joshua Jane , 157–87. London: ResCen/Middlesex University Press.
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Franc Chamberlain is Professor of Drama Theatre and Performance at the University of Huddersfield. He was the founding editor of the Routledge Performance Practitioners series which he currently co-edits with Bernadette Sweeney, is a former editor of Contemporary Theatre Review and is currently on the editorial boards of several journals including Theatre, Dance and Performance Training and Choreographic Practices.