Wild Life: Practice-led Research in Performing Arts

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Image from 'Wild Life' produced by Sarah Hopfinger.
Image from ‘Wild Life’ produced by Sarah Hopfinger.

We will be reckless, tender, and rough. We will run, sweat, and rest. We will be quiet, loud, slow, fast, still, and always moving. We will carry, hold, and fling. We are asking what it is to be wild. We would like to know about it with our bodies – alone, together, and with what we donʼt yet know or understand. We are not just us. There are children, adults, water, stones, and other ʻgoings onsʼ. Each of us are here, and since each of us are multiple, we are quite a crowd. We would like to go into this wild life.

I am doing a practice-led PhD in collaboration with Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, focused on researching and developing an intergenerational ecological performance practice. The main piece of research involved me collaborating with and directing an ensemble of eight professional and non-professional performers between nine and 60 years old. We co-created Wild Life – a live performance that is a choreography, meditation and celebration of wildness.

Wild Life, like most of my work, sits between choreography, experimental composition, live art, and contemporary performance. It is co-produced by Platform Art Centre and Catherine Wheels Theatre Company. It is has been presented to diverse intergenerational audiences including schools, community and youth groups, regular theatre audiences, and the general public in various contexts, such as the Only Human? festival at Glasgow University and Platform theatre venue in Easterhouse.

Image from 'Wild Life' produced by Sarah Hopfinger.
Image from ‘Wild Life’ produced by Sarah Hopfinger.

Wild Life exists simultaneously as both research and practice, and as research process and findings. This performance process enabled me to respond to my research questions – what is an ecological performance practice? – through an embodied thinking and doing, whereby ideas and questions arose through the collaborative experience of working with others. I think performance can enact as a holder for us to experience the actuality of being in the unknown in responding to a question or inquiry. For me, this is its importance as a research methodology and a practice in itself – it allows us to be in and with uncertainty through embodied experience. In this way, it allows us to, as it were, break up all our ready made ideas and shuffle the pieces such that we can find out something new. This is what I find most challenging and thrilling about working as a researcher, and practitioner in performance.

For more information about Wild Life and my work, please visit www.sarahhopfinger.org.uk. Follow me on Twitter @sarahhopfinger.

Text by Sarah Hopfinger, PhD student (Theatre Studies).

View Sarah’s video on YouTube.

Learn more about Performing Arts or discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts with Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

Post Author: Nicole Cassie

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