Romany Reagan

Grief Symbolisation, Multiple Becomings and Anachronistic Space
The Cemetery as a Unique Ground for a Walking Practice
11 June @ 5.00pm


In this paper I will explore three key theoretical considerations regarding space and place in regards to a walking practice within a cemetery: symbolisation and placing of grief, as explored by Elizabeth Hallam and Jenny Hockey in their study on the ways in which Western mourners relate to their dead, and the collected work of Doris Francis, Leonie Kellaher and Georgina Neophytou, in their expansive inquiry into the cemetery as a space of mourning practice. I will then introduce Doreen Massey’s concept of ‘contemporaneous multiple becomings’, as it relates to historical sites, and expand upon this to interrogate and unpick possible new meanings for Anne McClintock’s concepts of anachronistic space.

The relationships between each of these theories will be analysed with a view towards offering a greater understanding of the complexity of a cemetery space. I aim to illustrate that this complexity lends itself well to crafting an audio walking practice. Cemeteries offer a unique chance to explore the possibilities of ‘contemporaneous multiple becomings’: they are at once historical places, with rich opportunities for an imaginative opening up of space, and contemporary green spaces. Cemeteries are also excellent examples of ‘anachronistic space’, that is to say modern life continuing in a cemetery that is preserved in an anterior time and dedicated to the memory of people long past. The kaleidoscopic potentials of place within a cemetery provide fertile ground for a walking practice, and a richness of possibility.

With the disembodied audio format, the listening walker experiences a fragmentation of temporal awareness. Listening to a voice already from the past (whether that be a remove of weeks, or years) brings to the fore thoughts of the cemetery at once moving forward and backward through time. Audio stories of happenings long past, overlaying sights of modern joggers and anachronistic gravestones, offers a way to experience an artistic culmination of the cemetery as a multiple becoming.

Brief Bio
Romany Reagan is a second year PhD candidate in the department of drama at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her practice explores theories of anachronistic space, grief symbolisation and cite-based performance through the medium of audio walks in Abney Park Cemetery. Areas of research encompass theatre archaeology, heterotopias, liminal spaces, human geography, the uncanny and the Victorian ‘cult of the dead’.


Deborah Pearson

Narrative vs. Narrative
11 June @ 6.00pm


Rather than define a “narrative” by insisting it have an inherent set of traits or qualities, I am interested in what points of focus arise if we define “narrative” as being based on context and use.  I approach this research through the lens of contemporary performance since 2007, paying particular attention to how “narrative” sits within my own work, and the work of artists in my professional network through Forest Fringe.

In this presentation, I will be focusing on the narrative expectation of conflict as a point of focus, particularly in reference to my most recent one-on-one Drifting Right.  Drifting Right was a conversation with one audience member in a canoe, whilst on open water, but the audience member had to be someone who had voted Conservative in the last election.  In the piece I am open about my own left-leaning political views, and together we interrogate to what extent a cross-political dialogue (rather than debate) is possible and useful.

The presentation considers the history and hunger for conflict (and conflict resolution) as an expectation of the narrative model, and examines this expectation in other contemporary performance pieces, including Theatre Replacement’s Winners and Losers, Action Hero’s Slap Talk and Made in China’s Gym Party.

Brief Bio
I am going into my third year of a practice-based PhD at Royal Holloway.  My research considers the points of pre-occupation that arise when contemporary performances are contextualized as “narrative.”  I founded and co-direct the artist-led producing collective Forest Fringe, perhaps best known for the free venue we have run at the Edinburgh Festival since 2007.  I am a theatre writer and performer and make experimental solo pieces which tour internationally.  I also write plays and librettos on commission for larger companies like Volcano in Canada, with whom I am an associate artist.  I am currently touring a solo piece called The Future Show, in which I tell the story of the rest of my life, starting from the end of the performance and finishing with my death.  The Future Show is partially rewritten for every new space and time in which it is performed.  Forest Fringe have won a Fringe First, two Herald Angels and the Peter Brooke Empty Space Award.  In my practice as an artist I have won a Herald Angel and been shortlisted for the Total Theatre Award for Innovation, an Arches Brick Award and a Dora Award for best new opera.