Exhalations: Performance and Crisis. Completion of monograph

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Arts Languages and Cultures


This application is for research leave to complete a monograph called 'Exhalations: performance and crisis'. The research on which the monograph is based asks how performance scholars research and practise in situations of crisis, and how they subsequently communicate the findings from these encounters. It questions a diverse set of performance moments, moving from the small (analyses of grief) to the broad (Rwandan genocide memorials). Each example aims to place performance analysis at the heart of contemporary investigations of crisis to discover forms of resistance that are embodied and practised.

Performance projects in situations of crisis are often explained using the discourses emerging from trauma, storytelling and testimony studies. 'Exhalations' seeks to challenge these frameworks and renegotiate the privileged place of storytelling in performance projects in crisis zones. It will question disciplines on which these categories are based and argue instead for a more culturally and historically sensitive analysis.

Exhalation is the term used to describe the silences, stutters and word-struggles that are exhibited as a researcher/practitioner meets the critically challenging. It is also used to signify the place between speaking and silence in the community or person facing crisis. Exhalations are thus the marks of undoneness: when discourse starts not as words but as an affective shudder in the body. They are validated in this research as the central methodological approach. The claim is that in writing the shock, theoretical insights and learning are displayed and hopefully shared. The method seeks to base the research and subsequent writing at the moment of the researcher's struggle to speak - at the moment of research crisis - as this mirrors the performances of crisis that are the core subject of the book.

The chapter structure will be deliberately episodic with each section developing the argument but also shifting ground and focus. Each is prefaced by an 'exhalation' - a research or practice-based encounter that is in itself the crisis that prompts the analysis.

This monograph expands upon research completed during the AHRC funded In Place of War (IPOW) project. IPOW continues at time of writing and in its final year (2007) we will complete an edited book called 'Performance: In Place of War'. This will be edited by Michael Balfour, Jenny Hughes and myself and be submitted to Seagull Press at the end of my institutional leave period (December 2007 - coinciding with the end of the project). Securing the research leave beyond the end of the project allows for this additional publication to be completed. This will be my second monograph connected to IPOW (the first being 'Digging Up Stories: Applied Theatre, Performance and War', Manchester University Press). The new research and the subsequent monograph thus shares concerns of IPOW and will be questioning the place of performance in sites of conflict, but it is extending these debates into performance in situations of crisis (not just armed conflict).

In addition, it is seeking to make a contribution to debates within performance studies about how to write performance. It argues that questions about writing performance are revealed in a particularly acute way when considering performance in moments of crisis. 'Exhalations' thus develops the theoretical themes emerging from 'In Place of War' and then extends them into broader themes of writing performance and the problematics of representing pain and suffering.


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Thompson, J. (2009) Performance Affects

Description I wrote a monograph as promised
Exploitation Route People in my field are using my book for practice and research purposes
Sectors Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://n/a
Description This was a monograph project and the monograph now appears on book lists for Applied Theatre courses internationally.
First Year Of Impact 2002
Sector Creative Economy,Education
Impact Types Cultural