As a researcher of contemporary performance in the College of Arts, I see theatre as a space where practice, theory and history come together to allow us think about our culture. On the one hand, this means exploring how theatre and performance reflects and reproduces certain values, and on other, examining how live moments on stage before an audience might start to imagine or demand alternatives.
A key feature of my research is a body of work known as queer theory – a diverse field of debate, theory and activism closely allied to feminism and LGBT rights. Though often focussing on issues of sexuality and gender, queer studies is also more broadly interested in giving voice to lives and experiences which do not or cannot fit into normative, pre-given categories.
One of the ways I’ve tried to explore these ideas has been through events that engage the public in conversation with artists and theatre practitioners in thinking out loud about the politics of performance. Since taking post at the University of Glasgow, I’ve worked with Glasgay!, Scotland’s celebration of LGBT culture on a number of events.
For Glasgay!’s anniversary year, I hosted a panel that including award-winning playwright Stef Smith to talk about what queer performance might ‘do next’ in an era of gay marriage and equality laws. This past November, I chaired a conversation with internationally renowned performance artist Ron Athey to explore his Incorruptible Flesh series, and discuss how performance might inform our understanding of people with HIV and AIDS.
Open to the public, these events were important to me because of the ways in which different kinds of expertise came to speak to each other, placing scholarly knowledge in dialogue with performance practice and, in turn, with the experiences of everyday life.
Text by Dr Stephen Greer, Lecturer in Theatre Practices (Theatre, Film and Television Studies).
View Stephen’s video on YouTube.