Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?

Juncture – Day 19
Friday 23 March

On Considerations in Contemporary Performance Practice
The Juncture Symposium

Sarah SpantonBy Sarah Spanton

I’ve just left a large group conversation between 6 artists (Janine and Avis of The Two Wrongies, Claire MacDonald, Liz Aggiss and Wendy Houstoun – facilitated by Charlotte Vincent) and the delegates of Juncture. I’ve been asked to write a few words on my thoughts coming away from this wide ranging and valuable discussion.

So, I’ve pulled together a series of ideas that were raised / discussed in the Symposium – obviously paraphrased and re-interpreted by myself – they are each areas which link back to interests and questions within my own practice.

Who and what influences different generations – what isn’t relevant to younger practitioners today? That when we teach we are influencing practice – that the exchange between audience and performer can be as profound as that between teacher and learner.

Questions around how theatrical conventions influence the duration of work – regardless of whether the work needs to be the length required by the artistic concept.

How influential moments/people/experiences (not necessarily artistic) when we are younger – can raise our consciousnesses in such a way as to make a through line through our practice.

The artists infrastructure intended to support artists creative/autonomous processes – can sometimes hinder, curb and threaten that very autonomy/creativity – is the tail sometimes wagging the dog?

How do women making performance work manage the tensions between presenting themselves as women who don’t choose to comply to conventions of the day around ‘looks’ – does it matter if the gaze is a male or female one?

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1 Comment

  1. Marie Andersen, 5 years ago

    Is the tail wagging the dog? I think Sarah’s metaphor works well here.

    One of the things i came away with from the symposium with particular relevance to myself and my practice was this idea of fitting in and crowd pleasing. Is it necessary to change my program notes or even the content of my work in order to satisfy a wider audience? Does it make me unsuccessful if i perform in tiny unlikely venues for a small crowd of 10 people and a dog (literally)? Scanning the culture section in the news my eyes dart to the 5 star rated shows. Am i a part of a mob rule where i’m been intimidated in to believing that a one-dimensional pictogram can capture the essence of a performance?

    I choose NOT to star rate this event…

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