This Lab will bring together fourteen artists from five different countries in Europe to explore gender and sexual identity in theatre and dance for children. Artists will work together over 8 days from Monday 30th of January to Monday 6th of February 2017.
The lab will pose the following questions – how can we use performance to explore gender and sexuality with children? And should we? How can we as artists use our current skills and push ourselves and the sector to create bold and radical work for children? How can we match our personal politic with the work we create and the ways we engage with young people?
Through performance experiments, discussions, skill-sharing, cross-cultural pollination, and engaging with children, we will explore how ideas around gender and sexual identity manifest themselves not only in our individual practices, but also in the wider field of Theatre for Young Audiences and in society at large.
We will ask the difficult questions concerning taboos, stereotypes and archetypes within work for children, and question where the boundaries lie between what is safe, subversive or wholly inappropriate. Where are the tensions between these considerations? Who makes the rules? And is or isn’t it the job of the artist to push and question these ideas?
In terms of gender and sexuality, the Lab seeks to address the gap between the leaps forward in legal equality and the way children and society in general engages with these important topics. For example, in Scotland we are apparently Europe’s fairest nation in terms of legal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But these equality laws are not always reflected in the lived experiences of these people, nor are they reflected in visibility or representation in performance for children, which still sometimes clings to heteronormative narratives.
These are some areas of research for the Lab:
Experimentation and collaboration – creating performance responses to the topics on our own and with the others in the group, and potentially with children from a local school.
The role of the “child” – what rights do children have in terms of equality and how does this affect the way we make work for them? What do children ‘need’ from our work – if anything?
Understanding the terminology – get up to speed with current gender and queer theory and how the language used around gender and sexual identity differs from country to country.
Input and provocations from outside the performance world - academics, activists and educationalists who work with children and identity.
What do children think? – we will work with a local primary school to engage directly with children and their teachers.
The Lab will be practical and you will be expected to create small performances as ways of manifesting our discussions so it is important that you consider yourself to be a maker in order to take part. It is not a masterclass: we will be working together to find ways of making rather than following a pre-scripted approach.
This lab will be led by Eilidh MacAskill and is inspired by her research project with Imaginate, Gendersaurus Rex. More information about Eilidh here.