This book offers a new framework for the analysis of teaching and learning in the creative arts. It provides teachers with a vocabulary to describe what they teach and how they do this within the creative arts. Teaching and learning within this field, with its focus on the personal characteristics of the student and its insistence on intangible qualities like talent and creativity, has long resisted traditional models of pedagogy. In this brave new world of high-stakes assessment and examination-driven outcomes across the education system, this resistance has proven to be a severe weakness and driven creative arts teachers further into the margins. Instead of accepting this relegation, teachers of creative arts must set out to capture the distinctiveness of their pedagogy. This book allows teachers to transcend the opaque metaphors that proliferate in the creative arts, and instead argue for the robustness and rigour of their practice.
Copies of these articles can be found through online databases, or provided by the author on request.
"Black, White, and Red Faces: Race and Performance at NIDA" in Australasian Drama Studies 70 (April 2017).
This paper compares two moments of racialised performance at NIDA: the 1960 production of Marc Connelly's The Green Pastures, which was performed with the full, thirty-strong company in blackface makeup; and a student production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest in 2016, which used whiteface makeup to contest ideas of neutrality and belonging in actor training.
"Boos, Tears, Sweat, and Toil: Experiencing the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 Live" in Popular Entertainment Studies 8:1 (2017) [co-authored with Billy Kanafani].
The Eurovision Song Contest claims to be the most watched television broadcast of all time, with upwards of 180 million viewers for each outing. Every aspect of its broadcast is controlled by the organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and participating nations air a glossy, noisy, seamlessly produced extravaganza each year. Yet, each Contest also has a live audience of between 10 and 30 000 spectators, who provide much of the noise and colour of the broadcast. In this article, I am interested in what those happy, screaming people on the bottom of your television screen are doing, thinking, and feeling. This project reports my findings on the live experience of being part of the audience for the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Vienna – a Contest, fortuitously enough, that featured Australia in its first outing in the competition.
"We are seeing what we saw before: The ghosts of SUDS" in About Performance 14/15 (2017) [Forthcoming].
This article recounts my experience with the Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS), arguing that the history of the organisation is written on the walls and floors of the performance space. I argue that this effect is central to the illusio, or investment, that members must accept if they wish to be seen as successful within the Society. [The publication of this issue has been delayed due to editorial constraints].
"The Corpse Corpses: Non-professional performers and misperformance" in Performance Paradigm 11 (2015).
In this article, I consider the work of Australian contemporary performance ensemble 'post', and use their work Oedipus Schmoedipus (2014) as a case study of the use of non-professional performers. I argue that through embracing the inevitable failures of non-professional performers on stage, 'post' are able to harness the power of misperformance as an aesthetic strategy.
"The Academic Lives of Student Actors: Conservatoire training as degree-level study" in About Performance 13 (2015) [co-authored with Dr Robin Dixon].
Using the case study of the theoretical component of the training offered at NIDA since 1959, this article interrogates what has historically distinguished the practice-led instruction at conservatories from theory-led university study. We argue that the theoretical study in these courses must be seen not as a distraction from the core business of training, but rather as central to the ongoing employability and adaptability of graduates.
"V-Effekt: Death, Mortality, and the Melbourne International Arts Festival" in Anthropology & Humanism 39:2 (December 2014).
In this paper, I use analyses of two performances to explore my personal engagements with death, grief and release. Part criticism, part exorcism, it is my attempt to understand what happened to me in the same theatre across two very different Octobers. How do we make sense of what it is to die? Even with that knowledge, how do we comprehend someone’s actual death? And what might theatre have to do with it?
"What is to Count as Knowledge? The evolving Directing program at the National Institute of Dramatic Art" in Australasian Drama Studies 60 (April 2012).
This article applies Karl Maton's Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) to the teaching and learning taking place in the one-year, postgraduate Directing program at NIDA. In it, I rehearse the argument — fleshed out in my doctoral thesis — that the content and delivery of the program has been radically redrawn by the demands of regulation and accreditation, so that the training now takes place in what Maton characterises as an elite mode.
Learning to Inhabit the Chair: Knowledge transfer in contemporary Australian director training (2014).
How are theatre directors trained today? Although there is a body of work around what directors do, little sustained critical attention has been paid to the nature of teaching and learning within director training. Training a director has been called “teaching the unteachable” (Fliotsos, 2004) — yet training courses do exist, and something, indeed many things, are taught in them.
Using a theoretical framework drawn from the sociology of education, this thesis analyses how knowledge is transmitted and legitimated in creative arts training. This methodology seeks to understand the ‘on the ground’ realities of training, bringing into simultaneous view the official curriculum, institutional aspirations and the messy business of training. Using ethnographic fieldwork to apply this framework to the Directing program at NIDA, my thesis investigates the dual questions of what is taught and how it is taught. My research was conducted from within the Institute, paying close, sustained attention to what goes on in the room during training.
"Conchita Wurst's Eurovision win and the power of performance" in The Conversation, 12 May 2014.
In this article, which considers Conchita Wurst's win at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014, I argue that the politics of visibility that attend any performance is central to the significance of her victory. Not only does this begin to address the ire her entry attracted, but it also suggests a way forward for a 'soft diplomacy' approach: a worldwide queer politics of the twenty-first century.