Academic journal article Outskirts

'Can We Meet? Talk? Love? Create Something Together?' - Conversations in Diva Research

Academic journal article Outskirts

'Can We Meet? Talk? Love? Create Something Together?' - Conversations in Diva Research

Article excerpt

Passing back and forth across multiple thresholds (conceptual, perceptual, emotional, somatic), a woman is falling through a thousand openings. Spaces enfold-unfold within her waiting. Muted, she is holding the weight of all sadnesses. Dissolving and resolving she falls too often, hesitates too long, clings too hard. She can neither return to her past nor escape its memories, inscribed as they are on/in her body/psyche. She forgets to breathe, is unable to breathe. Without breath, thought cannot become action. She is deflated. A returning inhalation creates the possibility of being articulated; it claims space inside her, makes audible the intimate kernel of diva voce, and she gives audience to herself. Once received she cannot un-know what she knows and is simultaneously liberated and made responsible: liberated from unconscious participation in self-limitation; responsible for unfolding towards her fullest expression. No Door On Her Mouth - a lyrical amputation is a work of dis/integration.

No Door on her Mouth - a lyrical amputation is a concert (or recital) of breath, sound, movement and text for a solo woman performer, a diva. It is the performative culmination of the practice-led, arts-based doctoral research project in the academic field of contemporary performance that I undertook to investigate and reinvigorate the diva icon's usefulness to feminist theatre praxis.

I am a contemporary performance scholar. In this paper I reflect on the ways that conversation emerged during my research process as a key methodological strategy for contemporary feminist performance-making. I use the word conversation here to refer both to actual conversations and to a form of reciprocal exchange that occurred in my interactions with texts, with a fluid and de-centered self, with critical theorists and with peers. My work has been underpinned by French feminist Luce Irigaray's reimagining of the pleasurable encounter between reader and text. Like Irigaray, throughout this study I have asked my community of minds and of practice, Who are you? And they have responded generously, And who are you? Can we meet? Talk? Love? Create something together? (Irigaray, 1991, p.149).

Taking my cue from Irigaray, my thinking is reciprocal in that it questions, reacts and interacts with the other; is interested, after Australian philosopher Margaret Cameron (2008), in opening possibilities and delaying closure. As a methodological strategy, conversation requires expert practice to be able to notice its occurrence, allow its resonance, and examine its 'fruits'. Noticing its occurrence enables me as researcher to challenge the cautionary tale that to be a diva is to be a woman unhappily alone. Allowing its resonance enables me to theorise that to receive one's diva voce - one's material and metaphoric voice - is to discover oneself in the orchard of discourse, nourished by conversation. The reciprocity implicit in examining the fruits of the critical exchange between researcher and her community (of minds and of practice) has created a generous expansion of what it means to be a diva.

I have chosen here to reflect on this methodological feature because this rich and juicy conversation, as a methodological tactic, could remain inaudible to the expert spectator who is not privy to the polyvocality of daily encounters that resound within and between the deliberate methods of a creative development and a practice-led performance enquiry. Hence in this paper I pay particular attention to the ways in which I noticed their occurrence. Amplifying a selection of conversations - (firstly, the conversation that followed a chance encounter between myself and a text; secondly, the conversation that occurred between my creative and critical selves through writing and other exercises; thirdly, the conversation that occurred with the pool of theorists in which I swim; and fourthly, the conversation between myself and my peers) - constitutes an act of fidelity and an act of resistance. …

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