1) Screenwriting, clowning and storytelling

Tuesday 13 June, 10-11.30am BST, online, no need to book. Click here to join

In this first session in the Loosen up! series, we will discuss perspectives on methods of analysis with Stayci Taylor, Hilary RamsdenAndy Barrett and Sanjana Kumar, with reflections from Seda Ilter .

Stayci Taylor will talk about Sluglines as Ghostly Presence (Taylor 2018), a text that featured in a special issue of TEXT journal of writing and writing courses dedicated to ‘Screenplays as Research Artefacts’. As the editors noted in the introduction to the issue, the piece used ‘the screenplay form to explore screenwriting itself in terms of its modes and conventions, its practice and its pedagogy’ (Batty and Baker 2018, 7). The short screenplay explores the role of the slugline (or scene heading) and the creative possibilities of this element of ‘scene text’ (Sternberg 1997), beyond its practical function in screenwriting and screen production. 

Andy Barrett and Sanjana Kumar will talk about the Mental Health Literacy Project India Foundation. (mehelp.in). This large scale interdisciplinary research project explored the potential to promote socially and culturally appropriate mental health literacy using participatory approaches, in Kerala. With a project team largely comprising academics and professionals from the mental health field, the applied theatre practitioners found themselves battling for space as they sought to show how their work could be viewed as a research tool and language rather than the more traditional one (both within the health and geographical contexts) of dissemination. Although the work was disrupted by covid, it was able to suggest ways of working that proved themselves surprising and of value to the wider team.

Hilary Ramsden will discuss a clown research project undertaken with clown colleagues Robyn Hambrook, and Jon Davison: DECOLONISING THE EUROPEAN CLOWN. The framework was a collaborative practice-led research into new forms and methods of clowning that might enable us to decolonise the European clown which currently informs the basis and working methods of most contemporary European clown performance. We wanted to explore global forms of celebration and performance such as carnival, festivals, shamanism and ritual in order to discover new working methods and processes that then might enable us to address political, societal and environmental issues in this current epoch of social and ecological crisis. 9 days of research were divided into 5 days of collaborative experiments/tasks/improvisings for/with the 3 of us. These were followed by 3 days of public participatory workshops and reflection times and 1 final day of reflection for/with the three initial collaborators. Filmmaker Mihalis Demetrius and Stavros Symoneidis created video documentation of the work: Break the Egg.

Biographies for Session 1:

Andy Barrett is a community theatre practitioner and researcher. His company Excavate have been producing work in the East Midlands (and further afield) since 2010. He teaches Applied Performance at De Montfort University, and is also a writer of plays for mainstream theatre and BBC Radio.    

Seda Ilter is a Senior Lecturer at Birkbeck and Programme Director of MA Dramaturgy. Seda joined Birkbeck in 2014, having previously worked at University of Sussex, University of Brighton, University of Portsmouth and Middle East Technical University (Turkey). Her research primarily focuses on contemporary theatre and performance, dramaturgy, technology and theatre, and new writing for performance.

Sanjana Kumar, a PhD candidate in Psychology at De Montford University, is conducting research centred on the mental health and well-being of sexual minorities in the context of Kerala. Her study employs participatory theatre-based research methods, aiming to actively involve the community in the research process.

Hilary Ramsden is a clown, activist, teacher and researcher. She was part of the lesbian-feminist Siren Theatre Company from 1984-89 and in 1992 she co-founded Walk & Squawk with Erika Block. She was Senior Lecturer in Performance, Theatre & Drama at the University of South Wales for 7 years and left in September 2021 to continue her path as clown and activist, performing, teaching and researching internationally and in collaboration with other radical clowns.

Stayci Taylor is an award-winning screenwriter, researcher and senior lecturer at RMIT, Australia. Drawing on her theatre/TV background, she publishes on screenwriting and creative writing, from perspectives including gender, comedy and web series. Stayci is interested in the theory and practice of screenwriting, as well as creative writing and creative practice research more broadly.