The Digital Window as a Sturdy Metaphor for the Zoom screen
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in their seminal text Metaphors We Live By (1980/2003), draw on a base of linguistic evidence to propose a distinction between a classical view of metaphor as ‘a device of the poetic imagination and the rhetorical flourish’ and a theory of metaphor that recognises its pervasiveness in ‘everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action’ (Lakoff & Johnson 2003: ch. 1 para. 1). Lakoff and Johnson suggest that ‘the essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another’ (ch. 1 para. 9). In this way, a window is a sturdy metaphor with which to understand the pervasive experience of the Zoom screen.
The window is a ubiquitous object of our ordinary lives, dense with symbolism, like the red book that windowed Jung’s dreams. Windows linger in the well-worn tropes of pop songs—How much is that doggie in the window?—while remaining powerful iconographies of classical allusion. In particular, we are interested in exploring the embodied connotations of the metaphor of windows to gaze, both real and metaphysical, so aptly described by King Richard: ‘To thee I do commend my watchful soul, Ere I let fall the window on mine eyes’. The digital window of the Zoom screen is even more specific in its embodied and activated form, because, like an actual window, it is designed to be used two-ways, for gazing and witnessing simultaneously. It requires at least two bodies in mutual gaze, and although there are many spaces in which these bodies exist, they come together in the “real” place of the digital window, which controls time, perspective, and participation.
What are the Digital Windows of Zoom revealing?
In the context of shared and embodied creative practice, we gain insight into other people’s worlds: bodies on the move, negotiating shared spaces, attending to human need. While technically a two-way window—I can see you and you can see me—the dialogue of the gaze is as Martin Buber (1970) would characterise, I-It rather than I-thou. Insight over Zoom is knowledge of the other without inter-subjectivity. The subtle voyeurism inherent in the technology offers often uncomfortably intimate access to the personal or domestic world of students and colleagues, but a window that does not readily lend itself to social connection or reciprocal or mutual gaze. Buber’s brutally simple call is to shift from the I-It mode of being to the mutual and relational I-Thou:
I perceive something. I am sensible of something. I imagine something. I will something. I feel something. I think something. The life of human beings does not consist of all this and the like alone… [T]he realm of Thou has a different basis… relational… [relational] is mutual. (3)
For many artists and teachers, our ability to gaze through the digital window has recently and urgently become our primary creative and pedagogical tool. It is this invigoration, borne out of necessity, that has led the authors of this article to question whether or not digital windows can serve as heterotopia, ‘alternative spaces that are distinguished from that actual world, but that resonate with it’ (Tompkins 2014: 1). Tomkins has demonstrated that heterotopias:
have the capacity to reveal structures of power and knowledge: a potential outcome of a study of heterotopias is, then, a more detailed examination of locations in which cultural and political meanings can be produced spatially. (ibid.)
As Hart (2006) has noted, ‘space is crucial, even definitive, in the process of conveying meaning during performance. But how exactly does stage space produce meaning, and in what sense can we say that that meaning is “embodied”?’ (36), in our case, with a special focus on gaze. Hart suggests the embodied structures that underlie our culturally and socially dynamic understanding of the actor-spectator gaze, are determined by the physical performance spaces in use by those contributing to the dominant discourses of the period (40). Park and Neideck (2020: 63) have described for example the complex nuances of the use of the nondureong gaze in contemporary South Korean theatre—where actors of one of that country’s premier ensembles are directed to connect to each other in dialogue through an imaginary mirror placed in the audience: as an expression of traditional Korean modes of collective work (nondureong translates as rice paddy); a modernist revisioning of the direct address of Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt; and as a way for their director to condition the ensemble to conceal undercurrents of abusive behaviour from themselves, each other, and the audience.
In her discussion of the theatrical undercurrent of “the encounter” that flows through the “electric air” in which audiences and actors meet each other, Heim (2020: 27) writes:
Applying one of Paul Watzlawick’s communication axioms to the theatre encounter, Fischer-Lichte argues that when actors and audience members meet each other face to face, they ‘cannot not react to each other’ (italics in original). Their gaze, their gestures, their emotions, their words, even their silence necessarily affect each other. In the theatre there are two troupes of performers: actors and audience.
What happens, however, when these troupes are separated one from the other and there is no physical space, only the “place” of the digital window? Tomkins (2014) has observed that multimedia performance provides us with a multitude of ways of ‘staging “absence” in material, binary-challenging ways, even oscillating between presence and absence’ (146). What, then, is present and what is absent within the source domain of the digital frame of the Zoom window, our possible heterotopia? Present are multiple bodies on either side of panes of digital glass. Eyes capable (in most instances) of directing their gaze. Spaces public, private, and professional in which corporeal bodies sit, stand, move about. Absent are many of the conditions under which we as teachers and creative artists have created the relational mutuality that Buber describes as pivotal to connection and to creation. In a world in which the edifice of Zoom—a technology built by the intersection of interlocking digital windows—has been imposed on much of the world with little planning and induction, what new meanings are created by the co-present and witnessing gazes of performer and audience, student and teacher?
Case Study 1: Love and Money—Rehearsing within and from the Digital Window
At the end of March, 2020, as the global COVID-19 pandemic was starting to take off a third of the way into the first semester of the Australian academic calendar, the decision was made to first halt, and then cancel the production season of Queensland University of Technology’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. For Melbourne-based director Kat Henry, the sudden cancellation of the graduating production was another one of many jobs lost to the pandemic. What unfolded for the director and her cast was an exercise in salvage and resilience mediated through a range of digital windows, and dual encounters with Dennis Kelly’s Love and Money (2008).
What follows is a choreographed conversation between Kat Henry and Jeremy Neideck: a collaborative act of reflection that dances between issues of digital authenticity, the refraction of the actor’s gaze as it meets the Zoom window, and the potential for these issues to leave a lasting impact on the craft of the teaching artist as director.
Jeremy: Shane and Kath and I have written previously about the fact that through Zoom we now have windows that grant access to the lives of our students, co-workers, and collaborators, and that the already porous and fragile nature of the relationships that we hold in the context of the drama school and the theatre industry more widely, really start to disintegrate (Pike et. al. 2020). You and I have a shared history of practice that is very embodied, and very visceral. We have trained and worked in ensembles whose physical and interpersonal connections are core to the theatrical experience. For people like us, physical separation can be very difficult to navigate. One of the consistent themes in reflections we have had in 2020 is the shifting nature and quality of the gaze when moving between physical and virtual spaces. We know the term “gaze” has a myriad of implications and inferences, from the gendered male gaze and its counterpointed feminist gaze, to the apposite politics of gaze in a digital world where every intimate and public moment is captured, shared, and broadcast to friends and followers from the palm of our hands (see: Ibrahim 2019). For our purposes and setting these associations aside though, when working on the digital production of Love and Money in April, what consideration was made in regard to the gaze of the actors, or your gaze as a director and the way this met the gaze of the audience?
Kat: One of the first things that we discovered was how exhausting it was to try and present a realistic human interaction on Zoom. It requires you to engage an analytical part of the brain in order to continually adjust—to try and appear as though you are staying connected. In rehearsal for the first, digital season of Love and Money, we found out very quickly that those things weren’t available to us. To a large extent, this kind of “reading” is absent once we go online. Instead, we engage an analytical position, as though we’re interpreting cues through a filter. We had to discover unnatural ways to look natural. I discovered that I had to change my language so that I could talk very technically with the actors about how we could make it look like they were genuinely in a scene when they were not able to receive any physical or visual cues.
Jeremy: This resonates strongly with our earlier work on the dramaturgy of Zoom (Pike et. al. 2020), where we noticed that:
It is the agency of the body that is the best way to understand and move towards artistic response to the zoom function… [Y]ou must embrace the reality that “reality” looks less real than construction—cabaret, clown, dance, popular music have all been particularly effective in harnessing the transgressive body to cut through and across the limitations of the box screen. (5)
In film, actors are always doing things that are highly unnatural, but the process of making that read for an audience happens in the editing suite with the selection of takes, and in the timing of transitions. But within the digital window, it is all happening live, almost as if we were back in the heyday of in-camera editing—and it is this in-camera editing that becomes one of the primary tasks of the actor. What were some of the tactics that you used to develop this sensitivity in the actors?
Kat: We looked at other productions that had been done on Zoom—which in April were not easy to find—and started to experiment with and interrogate the potential of the digital frame itself. We had to meet it on its own terms and learn what this new medium was.
What is it like? What is the audience looking at? How can we transform the actor’s own private space in the service of telling the story? What do you do? Where do you do it? Where do you look? Is it the light of the camera on your laptop—which ends up reading as if your point of focus is just above your scene partner’s eyes? Or do you look at their eyes on your screen, which reads a bit lower? And with the Zoom setting with two frames side-by-side, which direction do you look? How can you make it read that you’re actually talking to each other? Do we acknowledge that we’re on Zoom, or are we trying to suspend disbelief so that you feel like you’re in the same room, even though the audience is seeing you in two frames?
Jeremy: In the theatre, these questions around the construction of space and the positioning of the audience in that space hold their own meaning. With the proscenium, the idea that the theatre is a window into another universe is really clear (see Tomkins 2014: 28). But on Zoom, everyone has their own window and it’s a pixelated and fractured view of the universe. The creative impulses that feel natural to a theatre maker aren’t readily available.
One of the unique experiences that you had was that, once the lockdown eased in Brisbane, the actors were able to reconvene on campus and you were given the opportunity to stage the production remotely. What was the experience like of realising a live production of Love and Money for the stage, once the actors were able to congregate and move freely at the same time as you were in Melbourne, experiencing one of the world’s most comprehensive lockdowns, and your presence in the rehearsal room was constrained within the digital window of Zoom?
Kat: Initially I was just grateful to be able to realise the production, particularly in a climate where theatre had closed down across Australia, and everyone had lost their jobs. I felt so happy for the actors that they got to experience the piece in a theatre, it felt triumphant.
And then I started to feel guilty. I felt like I wasn’t able to be there for the actors, or for the crew nearly as much as I wanted to be. In our regular theatre practice, so much of a director’s job, everyone’s job, is to read the room in constant interaction with the personalities in the room. It’s a very visceral, intuitive process that arises from a lot of incidental communications on verbal and non-verbal levels. Live, interpersonal experience is fundamental to theatre; we find joy in being physically together, in reading each other. It is a lot of incidental conversations. It’s walking into a room and having banter that has nothing to do with the play, but everything to do with building trust and relationships. What we know is so special about theatre, is the social experience of it. Not only behind the scenes, and during the process, but how those social experiences translate to the audience because of what you, as a cast and crew have created. This is what was missing.
And so, I had to set up Facebook posts. Messenger threads. I had to phone people. I would have phone calls with my stage manager and my assistant director about three or four times a day just to make sure that I was actually talking to them, because for most of this process my presence in the room was as a large TV monitor that, even though it was on wheels, only had a very limited range of motion. I started doing this thing where they would come right up to the screen, right up close to the camera, and they would talk to me for a couple of minutes and just tell me how they were feeling.
Jeremy: This is another important thing we have noted previously about the agency of the body of Zoom participants (Pike et. al. 2020)—it is your movement that triggers intimacy—and the fact that you need to really and physically use the proxemics of the screen. It is fascinating to see it used here not for aesthetic purposes but relationally to build rapport in the rehearsal room.
Kat: The thing is, there was an incredible warmth about it. I feel so fond of my cast. At some point it was suggested that I actually call them, which is not something that I would usually do, but under these circumstances we found that it was exactly the right thing to do. It was amazing because they started to tell me about things that were going on in their lives, or things that were making it hard for them to be present in the process. I feel like I would never usually have that kind of depth of conversation with cast members, but we all found it really important because of the time and the context. They were much deeper check ins than I would usually have. And this is really interesting to me, because usually I would facilitate a group check in, but this was different—it just felt like we could support each other.
It was necessary to create this new kind of space, to contrive these new kinds of interactions, because the usual kind of frequent, incidental and collective interactions weren’t available to us.
Jeremy: You have painted a picture that starts from a place of deficit, in that the limits of the technology are such that it is almost impossible to read the room and enjoy the kind of physical, visceral connection with the ensemble that we are used to. However, what has emerged is a set of strategies that you would never have used, strategies that manufacture deep points of personal contact with individual cast members that facilitate alternative ways to create and maintain a network of connections.
Kat: For the theatre industry, I think there’s probably a hope that we will use Zoom as little as possible in the future. But I also think it’s impossible to expect that it will just disappear. Zoom offers opportunities to level the geographic playing field. For the past few years there has been a diminishing focus of where someone is based, and people have had to obfuscate and be slippery with where they are and their ability to travel. During Love and Money, I had my young son on my lap for a lot of the process, something that I would never have done before. This softening of the stark divisions between professional and private lives is significant. Perhaps it signals a more rounded domain of what is seen to be “professional”. But what is also clear is that the digital window cannot and should not supplant the rehearsal room as the only “place” for key creative work, it has to be combined with other processes that create relational and social connection, and we will need the new boundaries and protocols we are discovering now to shift and grow.
Jeremy: When Foucault first conceived of heterotopias, “une espace autre” in his seminal work, Les mots et les choses [The Order of Things] (1966) he saw it as a collusion of ‘private space and public space, family space and social space, cultural space and useful space, the space of leisure and that of work’ (Foucault 1986: 23) funnelling into a “real” place that is about “making difference”. The blurring of boundaries and the conjunction of multiple spaces into a concentrated place echo his words, but I am not sure if what you describe could yet be argued to be “making difference” or harking back to Tompkins notions of revealing power or knowledge. Perhaps, though, the strongest observation arising from our conversation is the importance of the gaze of the director to notice “absences” as much as what is present. And then to ameliorate what is absent, particularly by providing the inter-subjectivity and mutuality of relationship. This isn’t surprising really in the broader light of a director’s role, but it is important to note, nonetheless.
Case Study 2: Making through the Digital Window Antonin Artaud’s The Theatre and The Plague
Confined by the lockdowns and restrictions enacted in response to the world’s COVID-19 pandemic, German-born director, Wolfgang Pannek, of Brazil’s renowned dance theatre company, Taanteatro Companhia, conceived of an idea to unite artists from around the globe. Capitalising on the shutting down of performance venues across nations, Pannek initiated a project with artists hailing from France, Tunisia, Iceland, Mozambique, Germany, Russia, Argentina, Thailand, Switzerland, Australia, and Brazil.
The project, titled Antonin Artaud’s Theatre and the Plague, is described as ‘a cinematic reading of the homonymous essay by the French poet Antonin Artaud (1896–1948) in times of the coronavirus pandemic’ (Taanteatro 2020: para. 1). While its filmic qualities are undeniable, the work is based in the theatrical and has notions, techniques and aesthetics of live arts—drama, physical theatre, dance theatre, and butoh, for example—at its core. The work was developed in the following way:
For the purposes of the cinematographic project, the Artaudian text was sequenced in 8 segments with different thematic focuses and distributed among the artists. The collaborators accepted the challenge of creating an audiovisual dramaturgy, associating Artaud’s text – recorded in their respectives language [sic.] – with their subjective experience during the pandemic under the conditions of social distancing in their respective geographical location [sic.]. This work process, carried out with cell phones, tablets and elementary digital cameras, resulted in a set of 18 short films, lasting between 4 and 11 minutes each. (Taanteatro 2020: para. 3)
Here, performance works were generated using Artaud’s text as the creative stimulus, interpreted through the COVID-19 experience of each individual artist within their country, city, suburb or even building of residence, depending on the level of lockdown they were experiencing at that time. The performances were created with the intention of digitally recording them as a key influence on their development, they were then filmed before being shared with Pannek via online file sharing platforms. Pannek then sequenced/choreographed/orchestrated/curated the eight works together and maintained directorial oversight, or the “gaze” of the project overall.
Although Pannek maintained accountability for the final sequencing and editing of contributions in order to arrive at the finished product, by charging each artist with the responsibility of inventing their own individual artwork many of the pitfalls associated with other online/digital forms of collaborative artmaking were avoided. Delays in transmission, signal cut-out, screen fatigue, eye strain and headaches, the boredom and subsequent passiveness that comes from trying to talk about the creative work rather than getting up and doing the creative work, all things that are familiar to the Zoom-artist-collaborator, were alleviated when the collaboration took place via the curation of completed performative artefacts.
Technologies such as Zoom were invented for the corporate collaborations of business – conferences, meetings, moving motions and talking takeover tactics. These online platforms were not developed specifically for the creativity that an artist is used to, and performance makers and their collaborators are still navigating ways to make these platforms work for them and enhance their usual processes. As writer, editor, podcaster, and electronic musician, Sabine Brix, asks and answers: ‘is it possible to stage a successful production when the director isn’t even in the same room as the performer? It can be done, but only with a lot of patience and a good sense of humour’ (2020: para. 1). The Zoom medium, which, as detailed by Kat Henry in her experience directing Love and Money via the platform, exhausts collaborators by demanding constant energy and focus to “appear connected” to each other and the work.
Through combining the recorded live-performance-based artforms at the core of each individual contribution of Pannek’s project, with the arts of film and film editing to bring the work into its final form, Antonin Artaud’s Theatre and the Plague is a living example of a transdisciplinary collaboration of the digital window achieved without utilising the Zoom function. Alongside the case study of Henry’s work, this points to a creative landscape of exploratory heterotopias, where multiple possibilities for drawing together previously incompatible or disparate spaces, the live and the digital, exist. As Rancière once argued, when speaking against the assertions of the modernist movement that arts had become disparate disciplines, artforms ‘are increasingly engaged in the activity of constructing the shared world … continually swap[ping] strategies and employ[ing] common approaches’ (Tanke 2010: 6). For Pannek’s project, the processes of the live studio and the digital editing room are seen to unfold, in many ways, as they always have, yet collapse and enmesh together by virtue of the curatorial role of the director.
The collapse of the live and the digital, either via the Zoom window as encountered by Henry or absent of the Zoom function as noted in Pannek’s project, is echoed by the experience of cinema, where theorists like Hye Jean Chung suggest that we are now “post-digital,” as ‘technological development that is already pushing film production beyond the digital moment to a place where it becomes unnecessary to strive for “seamless” integration because the split between live action and digital no longer exists’ (Chung 2018: 177). Similarly, for both Henry and Pannek the pervasiveness of digital screens and their manipulation of artforms designed for the studio is no longer a case of striving for integration, but a necessity that can also be seen to support and nourish the live performance space. Without the digital screens, neither Antonin Artaud’s Theatre and the Plague nor Henry’s version of Love and Money would exist, and the studio work that provided each constituent artefact for Pannek would not have found an audience, nor would Dennis Kelly’s script have found its life in these actors during this global pandemic.
Where theatre becomes a form of film and film becomes an expression of performance art in the case of Antonin Artaud’s Theatre and the Plague may be open for debate, and further raises questions about the pervasiveness of digital windows in a circumstance where studio work is created for the camera, captured by ‘cell phones, tablets and elementary digital cameras’ (Taanteatro 2020: para. 3) and subsequently distributed through social media platforms, websites and cloud-based servers into the palms of the audience’s hands or via the light-emitting diodes of their monitors. In this world where digital frames pervade and impact the artist’s studio in such a way, as a result of what is our modern-day plague, we should also acknowledge the ingenuity, adaptability, and cleverness of artists to answer to and adopt this notion of pervasiveness in their responses to the world. Mirroring the optimism of philosophers like Michel Serres in relation to digital media (Johnson 2019), we must acknowledge and celebrate the role that art, particularly live art such as theatre, plays in maintaining and feeding our humanity in times of struggle, no matter its form of transmission. Also contextualising the power of art in the time of plague, though in a less flattering way, Artaud recounts the following analogy:
In The City of God St. Augustine complains of this similarity between the action of the plague that kills without destroying the organs and the theatre which, without killing, provokes the most mysterious alterations in the mind of not only an individual but an entire populace. (Artaud 1958: 26)
Unlike the intensity of relational mutuality held by the gaze of director Kat Henry, it is the very freedom from such a gaze that empowers the process of making in Wolfgang Pennack’s Antonin Artaud’s Theatre and the Plague. Further, teacher-artists like Linda Lorenz (2020) have noted unexpected benefits for performers training on Zoom during a pandemic, in terms of releasing inhibition, as the student actor’s perception of being held in the gaze of teachers and peers is diminished. In this way, absence of gaze is further seen to be a potent liberationary force, when used strategically in a training or a making process that involves the digital window.
Conclusion: The post-digital heterotopia
The well-established metaphor described by Tomkins (2014) of the arch of the proscenium as a window into other universes (28) has been made physically manifest in our homes in ways not captured by the television revolution of the previous century. What will come of the digital heterotopia of the digital window—the frame that is distinguished from the world, but is resonant with it (Tompkins 2014: 1) —when we venture back into the studio, when our performance making practices once again move about freely in the world? Is it possible that we have all been rehearsing for a new, interconnected futurity?
The potential existence of a paradoxical world on stage wherein both the actual and the ‘conjured’ locations coexist offers the opportunity to practice—to ‘rehearse’, as it were—potential socio-political alternatives to the larger space-time reality. (Tomkins 2014: 37)
There is certainly evidence of potential to rehearse changes that many of us would welcome in our creative practices, a freeing of geographic constraints on work participation and a softening of discourses of professionalism that ignore family and personal realities and their impacts. There are those amongst us who have worked in these modes for decades, shifting our working processes in response to the possibilities afforded by advances in information and communications technology—and for those early adopters it can feel as if the rest of the world is now playing catch up. Yet digital scholars like Peter Johnson (2019) note the history of a shallow and un-nuanced casting of online and digital spaces as “heterotopias”—initially “cyberspace” and social media were framed in this way. More recently this has transformed into dystopian spaces. Neither position, he argues, does full justice to the complex ways in which these digital spaces function.
Perhaps, then, what is most compelling about what arises from the accounts contained within the two case studies presented here is the articulation of the agency of the artists as they are using the Zoom window, in particular their use of gaze and other strategies of embodiment. This ties to one of the clearest conclusions that we are working toward—that the transition in and out of the digital space perhaps should not be seen merely as a necessary evil that we can leave behind once the pandemic clears, but that in fact we are rehearsing a new, and interconnected futurity for live performance, and this has the potential to actually permanently alter the world around us. In a time when much of the globe was sheltering in place, there has been the pervasive sense that theatrical performance is intimately tied to a sense of space, and that space is inhabited by physical bodies complete with their vulnerabilities, anxieties, and pre-existing conditions. Shakespeare it seems has once again prepared us for this futurity, staging in Olivia’s inventory from Twelfth Night a model of technologically mediated transmission that reminds us that the projection and manipulation of our physical presence has long been a preoccupation of the theatre maker:
O, sir, I will not be so hard-hearted. I will give out divers schedules of my beauty. It shall be inventoried, and every particle and utensil labeled to my will: as, item, two lips indifferent red; item, two grey eyes, with lids to them; item, one neck, one chin, and so forth. Were you sent hither to praise me?
The authors have no competing interests to declare.
Jeremy Neideck is a performance maker and academic who has worked between Australia and Korea for over a decade, investigating the interweaving of cultures in performance, and the modelling of new and inclusive social realities. The recipient of scholarships from Aphids, Australia-Korea Foundation, Asialink, and Brisbane City Council, Jeremy has undertaken residencies at The National Art Studio of Korea, The National Changgeuk Company of Korea, and The Necessary Stage (Singapore). His work for Motherboard Productions has been nominated for a Matilda award and sold-out seasons at Metro Arts, Brisbane Festival, World Theatre Festival, HiSeoul Festival, and the Seoul International Dance Festival (SiDANCE). Jeremy holds a PhD from Queensland University of Technology, where he currently teaches across the disciplines of acting, drama, music, and dance in the School of Creative Practice, Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice. Jeremy regularly consults on the architecture and facilitation of collaborative projects and programs of institutional and community transformation. Watch out, Jeremy is Bad Company: www.companybad.org.
Shane Pike is a Lecturer in Drama in the School of Creative Practice, Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice, Queensland University of Technology. He is also a practicing writer/director with a specialised interest in contemporary Australian theatre and (re)presentations of gender in performance. Shane’s works have received support from the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and received world premieres at The Brisbane Powerhouse. He is currently co-leading a project in collaboration with the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, combining augmented reality technology with applied theatre practice as an intervention in treatment for young people with eating disorders. Shane’s plays, based on several years of research studying the contemporary identities of young Australians, are published by Playlab: https://playlabtheatre.com.au/playwright/shane-pike/.
Kathryn Kelly is a dramaturg and a Lecturer in Drama in the School of Creative Practice, Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice, Queensland University of Technology. Her research interests include dramaturgy and socially engaged, feminist and transcultural performance practices. Her publications include a history of Australian dramaturgy 2000–2010 in Catching Australian Theatre in the 2000s (Australian Theatre Series, Bril) as well as articles with journals including Australasian Drama Studies, Social Alternatives, Fusions, Performing Ethos, International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media and various Australian performing arts industry journals. Her current research projects include an international collaboration around climate crisis, which will premiere in the Tokyo Olympic Arts and Cultural Festival in June, 2021; a project to explore First Nations community engagement models, in collaboration with First Nation Artists; and consultancies with her affiliated research group, Creative Placemaking for Social Impact at QUT. She is currently company dramaturg with award-winning, all-female theatre company, Belloo Creative, who are the Company in Residence at Queensland Theatre: www.belloocreative.com.
Kat Henry was on Queensland Theatre’s National Artistic Team from from 2015–2018, and has directed for Queensland Theatre, Melbourne Theatre Company, La Boite Theatre Company, Brisbane Powerhouse, Sydney Chamber Opera, and Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre, among others. She has been Resident Director at MKA:Theatre of New Writing, and held two residencies at Berlin’s Zentrum fur Kunst und Urbanistik, staging original performance artwork at Platoon Kunsthalle. Kat is on faculty at the Victorian College of the Arts where she looks after the Master of Theatre (Directing) program. She is a graduate of NIDA’s postgraduate directing program, holds First Class Honours in performance, and is currently a PhD candidate at Monash University.
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