As a professional performance-maker and live artist, I chose to frame my creative output as Practice-Research, which means both elements are entirely co-dependent and have equal value and importance. Rather than articulating my findings and arguments through conventional publications, they are tested, expressed and shared through pieces of performance or, in some instances, through pedagogical performance projects. My Practice-Research has both an artistic and a pedagogical strand, with inevitable overlaps.
My main areas of interest are the performance event as a site for encounter enabled through aural and visual composition, the porous dramaturgy of interactive work, the materiality and corporeality inherent in performance, musicality as a structuring device, and the exploration of strategies that problematise meaning-making processes. As a result, I am particularly drawn to ritual structures, task-based actions, and the use of totemic objects. I also employ approaches that may start with the written word, or deliberately employ word games, but which go beyond discursive language. This gives my work a visceral and heightened experiential character.
Artistically, my current Practice-Research investigates the concerns mentioned above using the notion of litanies as its anchoring concept. The word litany comes from the ancient Greek λιτανεία (litaneia) meaning prayer. Litanies are musically structured lists which are ‘active texts’ in that they go beyond the merely aesthetic or descriptive, seeking to accomplish a clear objective that can be expressed as a verb: to lament, to extol, to warn, to supplicate… Moreover, in many religions, litanies are texts composed of more than one voice (that of the cleric, and the answers replied by the congregation). Therefore, the idea of a litany already understands the performance event as active relationship between the performer and their audience.
Examples of this Practice-Research are: UNNEGATIVE (2018, first presented at Tempting Failure Festival, London); RAVE vs RAGE (2019, first presented at live art club night PUPPY, London); YES NO BLACK WHITE (2019, first presented at Camden People’s Theatre, London); Hell Is Other People and ECCE CORPUS (both currently in development). Each of these pieces has its own particular focus, though there are common threads running through them.
Pedagogically, my Practice-Research focuses on strategies for teaching live art practices in an applied fashion. I am keen to investigate how live art methodologies can enable practical learning about fundamental issues such as:
- the performer’s (or even the actor’s) presence, and how to prepare them for their encounter with the live audience;
- the relationship between outward event and inner experience (pertaining both performers/actors and the audience);
- and the skills needed in areas such as conceptual dramaturgy and aural-visual composition.
In July 2017 I conducted a week-long workshop in El Campello (Alicante, Spain) for theatre artists who had never before experienced live art practices. The workshop took place within the frame of Almadrama Teatro’s summer intensive courses.
More recently, in September 2019, I conceived and facilitated STOMPING GROUND!, an international performance and live art residency celebrated in Galera (Granada, Spain). The benefits of this residency went beyond the participating artists, because it was a vehicle that enabled me to creatively revolutionise this sleepy Andalusian village; and given its success, the Town Hall is keen to host similar activities in the coming years.
I have also conceived and facilitated an extracurricular and pedagogical live art project for students at the University of Birmingham. Between June 2019 and May 2020, in conjunction with the Green Heart Festival, students have the opportunity to undertake practical workshops with live artists and then create their own live art intervention in the Green Heart, the university’s new landscaped central space.