TaPRA 2019 has ended
Welcome to TaPRA 2019 at the University of Exeter!

Jess McCormack

City Conversations: preparing participants for embodied dialogue in urban sited performance 
Writing about applied performance projects, Helen Nicholson reminds us that applied performance practices can ‘create a sense of belonging through the social networks and friendships fostered by working together...and has the potential to take account of narratives of selfhood and identification and to be open to alterity by recognising the different values and perspectives with which they are accompanied’ (Nicholson, 2014:89).  

Cities in the UK and around the world are becoming increasingly diverse. Our urban experience and its inclusion of ethnically and socio-economically heterogeneous communities should provide increased opportunities for discourse and inter-cultural dialogues, resulting in progressively nuanced understandings of others’ experiences. In actuality, though, we are seeing a rise in conflict rather than consensus, and ‘socioeconomic polarization and spatial segregation have become prevailing trends in cities worldwide, with adverse impacts on quality of life and social cohesion’ (Schreiber and Alexander, 2016:123). What are the possibilities for applied and social performance practices to open up meaningful dialogue between individuals and communities in urban spaces? How do applied theatre practitioners prepare for practices that invite city residents to work together and share diverse experiences of particular urban sites? What do applied performance practitioners need to know before they start a project?  

Choreographer Sasha Milavic & composer Lucy Railton (supported by Complicité) created everything that rises must dance (2018), a dance created and performed by 200 women. The women came together in groups to share with each other eight gestures that they had seen other women doing in public spaces. How did choreographer Sasha Milavic prepare for this project? How did the participants prepare for this project? What did they need to know before the project started? What might this preparation tell us about ‘the sensory, embodied, affective and place-based qualities of applied theatre’ (Hughes and Nicholson, 2016: 9)?  

Dr Jess McCormack (University of Bristol) is a practitioner researcher working across dance, theatre and performance. Her current research focuses on applied choreographic practices and incorporates practice-as-research and critical theory. Current interests include applied performance practices, choreography, verbatim performance, sited performance and adaptation and translation.