Performance and the Maternal


2016 and ongoing

George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling / Creative Industries Research Institute / Theatre and Media Drama Research Unit / Edge Hill University / Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home

Research team
Investigators: Dr Lena Simic (Edge Hill University). Dr Emily Underwood-Lee (USW)

Everyone, in some way, has a relationship to the maternal. As Adrienne Rich famously asserted we are all “of woman born” (Rich, 1996). Bracha Ettinger notes that we all carry the maternal within us, regardless of whether we have chosen to become mothers or not, because we all carry the memory of being carried (Ettinger, 2006). Maternal studies as a discipline has been developing in recent years (cf Baraitser, 2009) and has been particularly influential within visual art (cf Betterton, 2014; Chernick and Klein 2011; Liss, 2009; Pollock, 1999;) and drama (cf Komporaly, 2007). Despite the relevance of the maternal it is an area that has broadly been overlooked in Performance Studies. This research project aims to investigate the following key questions:
• How can performance and the maternal cross subject barriers?
• What is unique about the representation of the maternal in performance?
• What can healthcare, education, welfare and other practitioners with an interest in the maternal and performance studies scholars and artists learn from one another?
• What work already exists in these areas?

• Three network meetings at the Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home, Edgehill University and the University of South Wales bringing together over 50 scholars and practitioners.
• Documentation of each meeting.
A Study Room guide on Live Art and Motherhood.
• Underwood-Lee, E. and Simic, L. (forthcoming – under contract, scheduled for publication 2021) Maternal Performance: Staging Feminist Journeys Through Motherhood. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
• Underwood-Lee, E. and Simic, L (forthcoming – manuscript accepted) ‘Returning to Ourselves: Medea/Mothers’ Clothes and Patience one decade on’ in Marchevska, E. and Walkerdine, V. (eds) Maternal in creative work: Intergenerational discussions on motherhood and art. Abingdon: Routledge.
• Underwood-Lee, E. (forthcoming – manuscript accepted, scheduled for publication 2018) ‘On Openings’ Performance Research
• Underwood-Lee, E. (2018) ‘Blooming flowers and stony stares: negotiating identity through story’ in Willison, C. et al (eds) An Introduction to Storytelling Stroud: The History Press.
• An application to the AHRC ECR Research Grant scheme.
• Simic, L and Underwood-Lee, E. (2017) ‘On the Maternal’ edition of Performance Research, (22.4). including Simic, L. and Underwood-Lee, E. ‘Manifesto for Maternal Performance’.
• Simic, L and Underwood-Lee, E. (2016) “Performance and the Maternal” Contemporary Theatre Review 26:3.
• Simic, L. and Underwood-Lee, E. ‘Manifesto for Maternal Performance (Art), 2016.’ The Mothernists II, Astrid Noacks Ateliers, Copenhagen, 14th Oct 2017.
• Simic, L. and Underwood-Lee, E. ‘Manifesto for Maternal Performance (Art), 2016.’ Bringing up the Future, Galerija SC, Zagreb, 24th Feb 2017.
• Underwood-Lee, E. and Simic, L. ‘Performance and the Maternal’, Theorizing Motherhood In The Academy, Museum of Motherhood, New York, May 2016.
• (2017) ‘Performance and the Maternal: motherhood in the live stage encounter’, MAMSIE blog. Available at