A Proposed Non-Manifesto


11 June 2018

Last day of ‘class’. We were asked to write a feminist manifesto but there is something about a manifesto that just doesn’t sit well with many of us. I remember asking the young people I work with, in February 2017, about what they thought about the Manifesto for the Arts (2013) and whether this still resonated with them. Although there were many broad points of agreement, several youths felt that the Manifesto could be framed in a way that sounded less absolute. One said:

Young artists need spaces to create, experiment, fail, succeed. I’d make the manifesto not so clichéd. Art isn’t a bed of roses and it isn’t going to solve world issues. But it can connect, let people have an experience like no other…Art in Singapore is already very rigid…Instead of framing [The Manifesto] into rules…unframing it…would make it more open and free. (VN 2017)

I agree. So this is a non-manifesto for practice research that Cathy Sloan and I put together:

We commit to:

Challenging what counts

as ‘We the People’ and Who.

Agonistic cohabitation.

Recognising the messiness of bodies

Sticky with Affect

(not just logical rhetoric).

Polyphonic conversations…

(so this is not a manifesto but the beginning of conversations).

[Borrowing from Judith Butler]

For ‘it is true that there are no demands that you can submit to arbitration here…If hope is an impossible demand then we demand the impossible’ (Butler 2011).


I will miss the Monday Research sessions at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (Central). To all the PhD candidates who’ve generously taken the time to listen to my research anxieties, share their research insights with me and throw thorny and challenging counterarguments my way: thank you for these conversations and for being a crucial part of my learning at Central. You have taught me so much about what it means to create a supportive learning environment, one where I’m constantly challenged to be the best version of myself and exceed the limits of self-doubt to do what I thought was impossible.




14 April 2018. Conversations at the Intersection of Time.

What is it about an idea that withstands the noise of time? Julian Barnes posits that it is ‘only that music which is inside ourselves – the music of our being – which…over the decades, if it is strong and … Continue reading

08.03.18 #TheRebelDaughters


08 March 2018

Disavow paternalistic expectations
Writing ourselves through place
Rewriting narratives of place as women
Unraveling constructs of self
Until we understand these differences
as ways of living together.

8 paper cranes
Torn away from the gender expectations of glossy magazines.

8 wishes for hope and healing
Left on the tube, at tube stations and around Parsons Green*, London.

*Note: Parsons Green tube station was the site of a terrorist attack and a stabbing last year.


12 Jan 2018 In The Company of Clouds

31 Dec 2017 in the company of clouds

Dragonbreath sunsets

Craggy rocks submerged in the shipwrecked water

‘The people we were aren’t always the people we become’ (VanDerWerff 2017)

That may be disappointing,

but it also means we’re not bound by our past.

Living on with that knowledge is both powerful

and humbling.


The hermit crab rolls another grey ball of sand out from its hole

onto the shore. And I know that when I return, next year,

it will still be there,

rolling, still.

That which was built yesterday will be washed away

with forgetting.

Another journey is about to begin.


I must learn to begin, again.

I don’t know where it will lead, but

not knowing is a part of attending to



                                 A small bird skips across the muddy sand as

jazz lullabies play from the radio of a car.

What Place Remains?

Thoughts, questions, reflections

after TaPRA PG Symposium 2017 at University of Leeds

‘Silence stalks me’, she says.

How much alignment does a politician need between campaign promises

and what is actually delivered to leave a heroic legacy?

The performance of authenticity is not reliability.

Charisma is not indicative of wisdom

or the selfless ability to serve.

What qualifies as an excess of performance in politics?

What performances do we expect of politicians?

Let us unfetter language as we tune down the affect of sound

Silence apportions space.

Someone once said, ‘Silence is possible in an anechoic chamber,

but not with John Cage in it’.

The noise of our bodies, together, in space.

‘Does silence break word or do these words break silence?

You can choose silence but it never chooses you’

Can we dialogue through silence when words,

once articulated,

destroy all other potential words held in silence?

What is the ghost that lingers

in iconic theatres?

Can the national ever be separated from the historical?

Is the unfinished business Shakespeare’s,

Polykleitos the Younger who built the ancient theatre of Epidaurus,

or the people’s?

A longing for some place they lost…

‘One day, in the future, the chicken will become the most studied fossil’

for anthropologists.

How can we create art politically when

politics threatens to turn art into propaganda?

What invocations do we make with the pilgrimage to monumental places?

How does the anywhereness of convergent media

exacerbate our addiction to extract only that which is relevant to our lives?

To reduce what we experience to make meaning of it?

Can we stop wanting to win?

How does responsive design attend to meritocracy’s losers?

Must we be cruel to be invulnerable?

In other words,

can we play without being vulnerable?

‘The blog became a rear-view mirror’,

she reads for the author who is absent,

‘a space where the road behind me constantly foregrounded the road ahead

and the past was always present in the future’ (Pinchbeck 2016).

Can it be a meeting place where only one writes?

Is there place for conversations in a blog?

The journey we make is part of the ghosting

of place and places to be.

If you wait for something to be there for you,

it won’t be.

You have to make it up.

This is not a haiku

…these are just fragments of notes,
taken during Intersections 2017.
Adaptation as a Franken practice
Practice that seems closer than references
Revealing to trouble assumptions
Haptic ways of knowing. Thinking with your skin.
Touching is believing
To keep experimenting against the silence
To attend to affective alterities
The Imagination is also a place of struggle

RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. Call for proposals Themed Issue: On Access in Applied Theatre and Drama Education (23,3. August 2018)

RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance

Call for proposals

Themed Issue: On Access in Applied Theatre and Drama Education (23,3. August 2018)

Guest Editors: Colette Conroy, University of Hull, UK, Adelina Ong, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, UK and Dirk Rodricks, OISE/University of Toronto, Canada.

This themed issue is an invitation to examine and interrogate access, an ordinary concept that grounds and motivates work across a variety of fields. One possible model might posit access as a physical act of opening a door to a pre-existing room: the politics of diversity in arts funding might be one example of this. Other notions of access could involve the dismantling of the conceptual and material world to make way for more fluid notions of access that alter the shape of society. Yet it may seem easier to understand access more by what it is not rather than what it is. The need for access is rooted in inaccessibility; through barriers. How might this deficit notion limit the ways in which we imagine access and accessibility in pedagogic, creative and research practices? How does one account for the relationship between access and power? Vincent Tinto (2008) posits that the utility in access lies in its ability to be a ‘revolving’ rather than an ‘open’ door. We extend Tinto’s theorisation to advocate for access and accessibility that is sustainable and persistently supportive.

Access is limited by capital but there are other dimensions to power at play in the ‘ever-shifting geometry of social/power relations’ (Massey 1994: 149), such as one’s ethnicity, gender, perceived mental health, physical impairments or learning abilities. But even as one is granted conditional access, does this reinforce the exclusion of others? Does access reinforce compliance to social expectations that suppress dissent? What role might theatre/drama play in creating such access, and what is the experience of space and place after gaining access? What control does one have within the sphere accessed, and is it possible to change the conditions of access for others from within? Are tradeoffs made in order to gain access, and if so, what is lost in the process?

Access is a concern of cultural disability studies and disability activism. The aesthetics of access or access-aesthetics is a practice that assumes and interpellates disabled audiences, creating multiple and simultaneous rich and integral experiences that can be experienced differently but simultaneously by different spectators. Does access as an artistic discipline offer a formal as well as an ethical transformation of culture and cultural artefacts? Is access concerned with hermeneutics, with the appeal to meaning, or with the creation of a more inclusive sensorium? What impact might access-aesthetics (and participation) have beyond the artist’s intervention or performance? Access can be seen both as necessary (if we cannot gain access we remain outside) and also naïve; an insufficient response to the problems it seems to solve. Is access a political stepping stone or a theoretical trip hazard?

Access is not one single moment or just one thing. It is layered and relative to time and place. It offers the potential to place different aesthetics, pedagogies, and practices in conversation with each other. It allows for a multiplicity of stories because no two individuals have an identical relationship to the similar access they share. Sara Ahmed’s (2004) work on the ‘cultural politics of emotion’, offers a useful provocation to this issue: rather than what it is, what does access do? This call invites proposals that demonstrate how social theatre and drama education practices mobilise and engage with “access” conceptually and empirically. Contributions might address the following provocations:

How do artists, practitioners, educators, and scholars engage with issues of access in our aesthetic and intellectual practice?
Which practices take up or displace the values (and impact) of cultural capital or elitism in a neoliberal world?
What sorts of practices and operations enhance or enable access and accessibility?
Is access always a social good?

In responding to these questions, proposals might focus on:
The social (de)construction and performance of access/Philosophy of access
The ethics of access
Access aesthetics and sustainable social impact
Theatre, drama, and the politics of mobility, including access to free markets and movement of labour
Access, education, and drama in neoliberal times, including access agreements/legislation
Access at the intersections of social identities
Issues of “voice” and “story”
Access as translation
Access and the environment/environmentalism
Measuring access and accessibility
(Un)Tangling the “creative commons” – Drama research and public culture
Cultural disability studies
Limits, or expanded dimensions, to national imaginaries created by access.
Digital access/the intellectual accessibility of research and scholarship
DIY, makeshift, and “pop-up” theatres
Disruptive modes of creative enterprise

The themed issue will feature a mix of research articles (c6000 words), documents ( up to c1500 words) and online outputs (10 – 15 minutes approximately). Documents may include project descriptions, manifestos, provocations, letters and/or photo essays as well as other modes of expression. Online outputs might include recorded conversations with and between researchers, drama educators and theatre-makers involved in cross-cultural multi-site projects, annotated clips of performance, etc. All research articles will undergo rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and refereeing by at least two anonymous referees.

Please send 300 word proposals for articles, documents and online outputs, with short biographies to Adelina Ong [adelina.ong@cssd.ac.uk].

Expressions of interest: 16th December 2016
First drafts: 1st August 2017
Final drafts: January 2018
Final copy deadline: May 2018
Publication: 1st August 2018

Ahmed, S. (2004) The Cultural Politics of Emotion, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.

Massey, D.B. (1994) Space, Place And Gender, Cambridge, Polity.

Tinto, V. (2008) Access Without Support is not Opportunity, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, University of Texas at Austin, May 26, 2008.

Please contact us with any questions or suggestions: C.Conroy@hull.ac.uk

For information about RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance and its remit please visit: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/crde20/current