by Tracy Evans, Drama Development Worker
I have just started a practice-based PhD in performance studies at Aberystwyth University. So for the next three years I will be thinking about and researching performance and childbirth. When I say this to people, they often remark how giving birth is truly a performance! I will be looking specifically at the cultural narratives around childbirth – the stories we are told about ‘what it is’ and ‘how to do it’.
These stories come from our mothers and sisters, our friends who have given birth, but they also come from our medical institutions and the media we are saturated by. I want to explore how these stories impact on a woman’s experience of birth, and then go on to ask ‘if we changed the stories and the way we speak about it, could we have a different kind of experience?’
I will be creating three performances to investigate this, which will draw from my own experiences of giving birth. I will also be writing 40,000 words to look at other artists who are making similar work, as well as writing a theoretical/critical framework for it all.
As well as working with artists and academics, I am very excited at the opportunity to work with midwives and maybe doctors, mums and mums-to-be. In this sense, all of the Community Arts work I have done over the years will be the perfect foundation for working with people outside of University.
Since I joined Valley and Vale in March 2011, I have been overseeing the Esmee Fairbairn-funded project . We had three years of funding to try new ways of working and explore new groups and people we might want to work with, and we have created some very exciting and innovative projects so far.
I will still continue to work with Valley and Vale on a freelance basis, and I’m very excited about the current project ‘Llan’. I am working with four women from around South and West Wales to explore their relationship between motherhood and the home. Each woman will eventually create her own 15 minute performance which they will perform in or around their own homes for International Women’s Day in March 2013. These will be available to watch on the internet. We will be starting a blog which links with Valley and Vale website, so do come back and check it out soon on www.amothersllan.blogspot.co.uk.
Photo credit: Peter Morgan