I was invited to do a four-day performance art workshop with BA Theatre and Performance students at The University of Hull in Scarborough which culminated in a collaborative piece called 5 Success Stories.
During the first session, to get the students inspired, I shared my story of personal transformation from a shy and mousy painter to the confident and poised performance artist I am today. Then, following in the footsteps of Judy Chicago & Miriam Schapiro’s Feminist Art Program where consciousness raising sessions were used to generate artworks, we sat around and shared stories, expectations and concerns about the workshop days to come. We also did some folk dancing, aerobic exercise and theatrical warm-ups.
I then provided a brief and biased history of performance art and the students came up with proposals to reenact the works discussed. I also showed documentation from my project Once More With Feeling and we wrote a list of all the artists who were involved with the event, including those whose works were re-enacted. The students were then assigned to look up whichever artists interested them most and find a performance piece that they wished to re-perform for the group the following session.
To arrive at a concept for the final collaborative performance piece, we did a number of playful improvisational games. (I have written more extensively about our process in a blog post for The Protagonist.) In the end, we decided to present 5 Success Stories in which I address the audience from a lecture podium and share how performance had changed each of the students lives profoundly. The ‘makeover’ narrative that framed the student’s pieces explained (part-truthfully and part-facetiously) how my students Beck Tang, Charlotte Doughty, Lydia Doyle, Hannah Fisher and Kane Stephenson learned to take risks, push their boundaries and transcend societal pressures by expressing who they really are through the medium of performance.