How can performance prevent rape?
I suggest that performance can be used as a tool in rape prevention. I look at how performative methods of rape prevention may build upon and develop other forms of social education that work to end rape, creating possibilites for different ways to engage in intimate relationships.
This blog is a personal, theoretical, and performative exploration of how performance can be used in rape prevention.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Although Chat Room was supposed to be ME in a bed with one other person - people keep joining us!
So the beautiful people who come and join my in my bed for Chat Room on its Spreading the Love tour with the Feast Festival are showing me that LOVE wants to be shared more generously....
Sister Ikea, Daniel, Cat and I had a beautiful reflection on love at the Feast backstage tour (preview of the Feast hub - big party tomorrow!). After this, I jumped out my bed and went to find Gabrielle Griffith who wanted to come in (but couldn't fit - where are you Gabrielle?). The clouds were so full! So pink and gorgeous! But noone noticed. Everyone was too entrenched in their drinks to notice. But I felt full of their beauty, I was so blissed out on love.
There was one other person, standing like an idiot in the middle of the square, gazing up at those delicious clouds. Cat! She had just left my bed, and she too, was drenched in LOVE.
This spreading of love is actually filling me with love.
While 3,000 people doofed around us, we stayed in bedFeast Festival Opening party.
Bands and DJ's and drag kings and queens, party-people and ravers all around us. We are the calm in the storm. We are safe and snug in bed.
Wait till you see what Megan and Cary offer us on LOVE!! These grrrls have created their own language of love (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, eat your heart out!). In fact, they don't even call it LOVE, it's something quite different that they speak of....
Friday, November 12, 2010
With circus tents all over Light square, Adelaide from Sat 13-Sun 28 November.
Come to the square and break outta your box.
Feast celebrates diverse sexualities and genders and just being fabulous.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
4:30-5-30pm Friday 12th Nov
Free. All welcome.
I will bring my bed into some of Adelaide’s busy public spaces and invite strangers to join me. We will eat cupcakes and get crumbs in the bed. We will take a moment to relax, and let the buzz pass us by.
I want to know WHAT IS LOVE?
How do you love? What do you do when love gets hard?
Tell me your opinion. Cos really, I have no idea.....
Monday, November 1, 2010
My performance of Chat Room will draw on this tradition of LOVE in BED performances
Friday, October 29, 2010
I suggest that methods of applied theatre, together with those of explicit body performance, may transform the script of rape. Traditionally these styles are considered to have nothing in common. In fact, theatre-types mark them as distinctly different. I on the other hand, believe they have something to offer each other.
Firstly though, it is worth exploring DIFFERENCES between these performative forms.
- The community is at the centre of performance enquiry
- Determines community needs through focus groups, community leaders, writing scripts, and determines themes with community
- Works to develop self-esteem, community-cohesion, education and empowerment
- May be termed an ‘intervention’ because it intervenes in a problem that is recognised by the community, NGO or government organisations
- Teaches performance skills as well as doing issue-based work
- Makes the community or issue explicit
- May draw upon traditional theatre styles, characters, and scripts; yet may also subvert these very structures
- Often draws upon folk art
Characteristics of Explicit Body Performance
- The artist/performer is at the centre of performance enquiry
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I'm trying to learn how to love. I thought you might know? You seemed to get it right so often in the 80's.
I don't think I'm doing it properly. I never got taught how to love. Or maybe I just forgot. Is that possible? I never used to feel unloving, it's just that lately, I've thought about it a lot cos I think I used to get it wrong. Like love the wrong people. Or in the wrong ways. Or maybe I was the wrong person? Like, maybe I just don't know how to love.
To make it more clear, this is what I think of as to be loving:
- really try to listen, even if they say stupid things
- work with this person as part of a team - understand that you are woven together through your love
- be really really honest, even if it's embarrassing
- make them feel a bit special sometimes by treating them like a princess
- even if they're a cow sometimes, let them get away with it
But Greg - this isn't working. My track record is pretty bad. We always end up hating each other in the end. And now, well I think I have the chance to love again - but better.
Could you more clearly outline love for me?
Thank you in anticipation,
PS - I have also been reading Romeo and Juliet and The New Faber Book of Love Poems. They however, seem to have it as arse-up as me.
Remember John and Yoko and their media interviews from bed - well I'm doing it too!
However, I am briging my bed out and onto the street to chat with people. Here's me doing a media interview with the Messenger from my bed in Victoria Square, Adelaide.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I started Chat Room with the assumption that virtual worlds drive us apart. That a world so technologically-driven as ours leads to lower degrees of intimacy between us. We are too afraid to actually chat with someone face-to-face, so we so we go onto chatrooms and meet people virtually.
I think it's fantastic.
Friday, October 22, 2010
I am researching for Chat Room, and looking for ways to create moments of intimacy and joy in busy and disconnected public spaces.
getting kicked out of the mall!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Everyone said it. Some people described their crimes in a language only they could understand. My body spoke in a language only it could understand. I cried so much! I wasn't prepared. I went to his workshop as a therapist, not a client.
- Why was it so painful to say this?
- Was the pain in the speaking, or the being heard?
Do you think that's provocative?
I just wanna talk. About intimacy. And play. Playfully. I don't wanna be treated like a travelling sex worker.
How do I keep myself safe, but create dangerous performance that has the ability to transform?
- Don't wear pyjamas. They're see-through.
- Don't talk to drunk people. They won't remember anyway.
- Have some rules, like 'Don't embarrass yourself, you're on camera'.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Drama therapy is a broad name for many different styles of performance, all which have a therapeudic aim. Methods of drama therapy also include psychodrama and play therapy. Drama therapy focuses on expressing a personal narrative that is not exclusively verbal, but also relies on image, sound, movement, and gesture. Primarily, it is an embodied therapeudic practice.
Drama therapists rely on drama to allow clients to distance themselves from trauma. The client is encouraged to describe and work through the trauma using metaphor. It uses drama to assist people solve a problem in their lives, and acheive catharsis.
How are drama therapy and play therapy different to community arts work?
Here is a picture from one of my community arts performances. These women are community performers from a local women's shelter speaking about their vaginas in front of 2,000 people in one of my productions of The Vagina Monologues.
Read Johnson works on the premise that avoiding speaking the truth causes more trauma. Consequently, he wastes no time with his clients in speaking about their trauma. He says he 'does not even bother with hello', before asking 'what happened to you?'.
- clicking the door shut and laughing menacingly
- shutting the door and saying 'no'
- simply closing the door firmly
The client then takes on the role of victim and Read Johnson threatens them. He starts to bring up the actual abuse ie:
- do you want me to poke you?
- do you want me to poke you with something hard?
- do you want me to poke you like your Uncle did?
Wow. Read Johnson is not afraid of the trauma. He is not afraid.
This work is WILD!!
Drama Therapy with Amanda Gifford
Here is a photo of after Amanda Gifford's drama therapy workshop.
Amanda Gifford has studied with Read Johnson and shares a similar lack of fear for trauma. She just goes straight in. Her lack of fear strips away a layer of fear, enabling the trauma to surface more freely. It also does not allow the client to back away from speaking through the trauma - the excuse of 'noone wants to know anyway', or 'I don't want to upset anyone' loses its hold on the client's mind. An atmosphere of safety and openness is established.
I suggest that creating a space of openess and trust is essential for those who have been sexually abused. It provides a distinct difference to an environment of secrecy that can accopany abuse.
Two student performers at Constitutional Hill
Protest theatre is not the same as agit-prop theatre, as it does not attempt to incite political action or retribution. Instead, protest theatre is more like a lament, an appeal to the conscience of the oppressor. No solution is sought, the problem is simply stated. Or often, wailed.
Here is an example of a the very physical protest theatre in Imobokotho's show
- Deep Fried Man sang about being romantically and sexually clueless, and a bit of a geek.
- Blow explored a man's romantic relationship with his blow-up doll. It was vulnerable and tender, reminiscent of Norweigan film, Lars and the Real Girl.
- The Tea Party used full-face masks and a puppet-like physical style to unravel the story of a heterosexual relationship gone stale, until the husband starts having sex with strange men in toilets. The wife follows him one day. He stops doing it. And all goes back to normal.
- Pillow Talk explored the sexual lives of several different characters, exposing people's private lives as definately queer despite their religions and private school uniforms.
Notions of femininity were not challenged with similar gusto, only one show, a piece of performance art, examined ideas of women as being sexually available and desirious.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Let me make this very clear: I hate playback theatre!!!
But Bonfire theatre, now they are something else.
Why DID I hate playback theatre?
1. Because playback is disconnected.
In playback, people tell stories of their lives, and the actors play this back to them. The little playback I have seen pulled any rawness from the original story, proscribed an ending, and not understood the speaker's intentions.
2. Because playback is airy-fairy.
Playback looks to ways that performance can create catharsis and allow for self-expression. Consequently, I have found this catharsis to be forced - pulling out tears and striving for poetry where there is only shit.
3. Because playback is awkward.
Noone from the audience wants to say their story and someone has to otherwise we all shuffle nervously thinking 'someone better say something important'.
Yet....Bonfire's playback made me want to leap for joy instead of off a cliff.
Why do I LOVE Bonfire's playback theatre?
How does Bonfire theatre enable transformation of the audience/witness?
Sunday, September 12, 2010
So you wanna know more about Johannesburg than gangsters and fighting??
Then let me tell you about Soweto!
Orlando West, Soweto
Heard of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu? They both lived on the only street in the world that has housed 2 Nobel Prize winners, Vilakasi street, Orlando West, in Soweto.
I stayed around the corner from Vilakasi street, at Lebo's backpackers. Well, I actually ended up sleeping at his grandmother's place, but that's another story.
Soweto is a township outside of Johannesburg. Millions of people live there, there are millionairres, and there are slums. It grew up as a shanty town when black people couldn't live in the city (like, only 16years ago). Soweto is the home of the struggle that ended apartheid.
Things an middle-class Australian may notice on coming to Orlando West, Soweto:
1. There are no footpaths so you have to walk on the road
2. The roads are full of potholes
3. There is rubbish everywhere
4. Everyone hangs out on the street
5. Everyone knows everyone's business. People live very closely
6. People have lost A LOT of loved ones
Monday, August 30, 2010
Today I saw 10 cops torture these same 2 men.
These men were beaten up cos they held a knife to me and threatened to 'poke' me with it. I gave them what they wanted. My ipod, they wanted my ipod so much they were prepared to stab me for it. I do believe they would have stabbed me. So I gave it to them.
Yes - I was mugged in downtown Johannesburg.
I yelled at two men walking down the street to help me catch the theives and we ran. We ran and ran. So fast! They were dashing across freeways (I stayed on the side and yelled - too many cars!). Then more people came. And more people. Beggars from the street joined, security ran out from everywhere. It seemed that everyone was onto these 2 men.
There were like 30 people, all chasing these two guys. People came from nowhere and everywhere. It wasn't as if they were attempting to save this 'damsel in distress'. Instead it was like 'you can't do that shit here'.
And they caught them. All 30 of people caught those 2 young men. I was screaming at them to stop becasue they all stated beating them. I was taken away by security 'Shh, don't cry. Stop - it's all ok'. 'No! Are they hurting them? What are they doing to them?' 'Shh, it's all ok'.
I was taken to the Bramfontein poilce station. It was a caravan. A small caravan. The 2 boys were thrown in. One was bleeding from the head. The other had a black eye. I had to sit across from them and identify them. Although I thought I would never remeber them, it was as clear as day. I would never forget them.
The mob had confiscated a knife and my ipod earphones from them. Yet they insisted it wasn't them. 'You're lying!' I said 'You just threatened to stab me!' the police beat them - with their fists, their batons - all in that small caravan with me crying for them to stop - until they confessed. At one stage during the hour long 'confession' the police smothered one guy with a pillow so he couldn't breathe.
The police asked them why they had mugged me. They said that they were mugged the night before, and the theives had taken everything - their money, even one guy's pants (the shorts he was now wearing did look a little too big). One guy went and got my ipod that they had stashed in the bushes. The two young men apologised to me.
We were then taken to the police station in Hillbrow. When we got there the two men jumped out of the paddy waggon and came up to me, pleading for forgiveness. They were crying, brusied, bleeding. It was so horrible. They promised to never do it again, 'How do I know you won't do it again?', 'I swear on my Mother's grave'. They said they were students, get this - they're studying hospitality and tourism.
I dropped the charges. The police were nonplussed. I gave my muggers R10 each to get home. Otherwise they'd still be stuck needing to steal money to get home! If what they were saying is true.... I don't know.
Did I do the right thing? Within my ethical system, yes, I did. But it's so different here - justice works so differently here. Did I just let 2 muggers back on the streets? Or did I just show 2 young people a different way is possible? Or neither - does just nothing happen and everything just stay the same?
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
What do we do when we witness violence against a stranger? Do we try to not get in the way? Do we let them sort it out themselves? Do we step in and risk our own safety? Is it just another reality performance?
The woman's defense has told the court she is happy for her husband to come back home. She is happy to live with her attempted-murderer. Becasue he is also her husband, her lover, and perhaps her friend. But are WE happy with that, as a society?
1. Do we try to protect woman who are beaten by their partners from their own wishes to be with their partners?
2. Do we approach the situation with an awareness of the impacts of intimate partner violence?
3. Do we value the woman's freedom to choose her own way of loving?
To complicate matters, the husband was captured and tortured in Iraq. Our war - we sent him there. But the wife has to deal with the consequences. I can't imagince the physical and emotional pain, and ther downright embarrassment of being beaten up on the side of a highway.
I can't help feeling like this woman, and yes, this man too, are like bottom-feeders. They are gulping up all the garbage of our society.
Do we sit back and watch? Do we take some repsonsiblity for others in our community?
What is the ethical responsibility of the witness?
Can there be a politics of rape prevention that focuses on the good? Can methods of rape prevention seek to build up what is positive, or transformational, rather than focus directly on the problem?
Moira Carmody looks to ways to 'challenge the normalisation of intimate personal violence' through her sexual ethics program for young people.
Rather than looking at what is dangerous and what is safe, Carmody helps young people focus on what makes them feel good in relationships. Rather than impose a morality that insists women guard their virginity, the sexual ethics program explores different values with young people, and looks at some implications of these. The sexual ethics program only explicitly looks at rape towards the end of the program, before that focusing on desire and ethics.I'm also thinking about what Catherine Waldby says in her paper destruction. Waldby talks about performing fantasies that challenge the rape script. The rape script inscribes men's bodies as dangerous, and women as having a 'vulnerable inner space'. Man give and women receive. So fantasies that challenge this script could involve the phallic woman, or the receptive man. Waldby is speaking specifically of sexual fantasies. She believes that sexual fantasies can be a method of rape prevention. Pretty positive huh?
It's such a movement from the old, yet still very popular of 'no means no' kinda campaign. the type that scares women into staying in their houses cos noone ever gets raped there. And the kind that advocates a kind of 'protector' mentality in men: as if they cannot be attacked.
I'm interested in Waldby's idea of fantasy as a way to challenge reality and then create new ones. I feel like we have to think things, imagine them, even play them out before we can do them.
Waldby also says that merely playing these games out with sex workers is not enough. It is not enough to strap on a dildo or be arse-fucked by a sex worker - we must do them in our everyday intimate relationships. Otherwise there is a kind of theme-park effect, in which the phallic woman and the receptive man contimnue to remain the Other. Reminds me of the Adelaide Fringe - does it really helps us Adelaideans embrace new ideas and artistic styles? Or is it just a visit to the freaks, like going to the circus to see the tatooed lady?
I think it does change us. It helps us see and feel safe in another way of being. It helps us to play and experiment, in safe ways, with other ways of doing things. It helps us to explore the other side without totally going there. I think it's really important.