Performance and the Maternal


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)

A series of network meetings between researchers, academics and practitioners working across maternal studies, performance studies and health has been established to explore the relationship between performance and the maternal. 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.
Documentation of each meeting.
A Study Room guide on Live Art and Motherhood.
(scheduled for publication September 2017) ‘On the Maternal’ special edition of Performance Research, (22.6). 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.
A paper at the international Museum of Motherhood conference in May 2016.
An application for further funding for an extended network and conference.