On Wednesday 17th March, 5.30-7pm, we are holding a live online panel discussion of Drama alumni working in the theatre.
This event will give you the opportunity to hear about the career journey and experiences of our brilliant panellists, how they have adapted in the past year, and gain their advice about actions you can take now to build your career during the pandemic.
This session will not be recorded – please come along with your questions to the live event! Book your place here!
Beth Watton – Artistic Director at Poplar Union. Graduated from Queen Mary with MA Theatre and Performance, 2018.
Charlotte Potter, Freelance Producer; Marketing and Production Manager at COLAB Theatre Productions; Social Media Manager at Jury Games; Manager at Escape Rooms. Graduated Queen Mary with MA Theatre and Performance 2019.
Ellie Simpson, Producer at Pleasance Theatre. Graduated from Queen Mary with BA English and Drama 2009.
Lucy Dear – Applied Theatre Practitioner, currently working with Young Vic Theatre and Southwark Playhouse. Graduated from Queen Mary with BA Applied Drama, 2006.
OFFER HOLDER INTERVIEW DAY Sat 13 Feb, Online We have our next opportunity in January for our 2021 entry offer holders to hear an overview of their course, meet a member of staff for an interview and do a taster session. Email us for information
TASTERS FOR YEAR 12/13 STUDENTS & TEACHERS We’ve just launched 2 new tasters on Sat 13 Feb:
Public Space and the Geography of Loneliness 4 Feb, Online Our very own Matthew Ingleby will speak on Public Space and the Geography of Loneliness is the first event in our series of The English Association’s special interest group on Loneliness and Technology.
“In honour of #lgbtqhistorymonth, we have decided to theme our first creative workshop of 2021 on love! The prompts for this workshop will be shaped around the works of queer writers and artists, using their pieces as inspiration for creative creation”.
The series continues online this term, with an exciting line up of speakers from literary scholars and historians to neuroscientists. The seminars take place on Tuesdays at 5pm (UK time). All are welcome but booking is required. You can see the full line-up of speakers here and register for attendance here.
Bechdel Theatre co-run by Drama graduate Pippa Sa has received Arts Council funding to help develop the pioneering platform from a 2-person passion-project into a sustainable, equitable company, supporting, amplifying & connecting women, trans & non-binary people who work in & care about theatre & live performance.
Rosie Dastgir (English) has a short story in an anthology of fiction and non fiction and recipes called Desi Delicacies: Food Writing from Muslim South Asia – about south Asian Muslim foodways – edited by Professor Claire Chambers at York University and just published by Picador India. Her story is called A Brief History of the Carrot – !
Figs in Wigs (Drama alumni) publish a new printed version of their Little Wimmin through Salamander Street.
Quest Radio and The Museum of London project saw two groups of QM students listening back to recordings of London in the past.
Very exciting news is that the group that explored recordings from London’s LGBTQ+ Club Scene is going to be included in Museum of London’s online content for LGBT History Month!
Students in the LGBT research group include Eve Bolton, Kirsten Johnson, Georgia Wood and Keir McEwan.
Martin O’Brien (Drama) is interviewed for Afternoon Deelight podcast by Jordy Deelight. He says ‘it was brilliant to talk about Cystic Fibrosis and my work with someone else with it. We dig into early performance work in Poland, illness, Bob and Sheree, and survival.’
Martin has just launched a project with Shabnam Shabazi and Joseph Morgan Schofield. It’s The Sunday Skool for Misfits, Experimenters, and Dissenters. It will be a free 12 week course, every Sunday for artists in the early part of their practice: The Sunday Skool – VSSL studio (vssl-studio.org)
Susheila Nasta (English/Wasafiri Magazine) will be one fo the judges for theDavid Cohen Prize for a full life’s work only awarded every two years. Fellow judges include: Hermione Lee (Chair), Reeta Chakrabarti (BBC), Peter Kemp (The Times lead fiction critic) and Maura Dooley (poet, Prof at Goldsmith’s, previous Director of Southbank Literature). Previous winners of this illustrious include: Edna O’Brien, Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, Hilary Mantel, David Holroyd, Julian Barnes, Tony Harrison, Seamus Heaney, VS Naipaul. Read more here
Matthew Rubery (English) writes about how maintaining a critical distance with books might not be around for long on Public Books:
“Scholars have been conditioned to respond to talk of likes and dislikes with embarrassment, if not outright contempt. But the facade of critical detachment may be on the way out,”
Vote to Help Franciska get recognised. Voting starts on 4 Feb 2021 (today) and will be open for two weeks. Here is the link: https://www.highlightsofhungary.hu. The show is listed in the last category as ‘Nagyerdei Stadion – Hamlet‘
We caught up with Franciska and here’s what she said…
About her nomination
“I am writing to you because I directed a socially distanced Hamlet last summer and it has been named as one of the top 55 creative achievements in 2020 by Highlights of Hungary. I am incredibly happy as this was my first time directing in my home country in my mother tongue, and it was especially difficult to create a show in the middle of the pandemic that was safe for audiences and creatives/cast alike.
The nomination itself is a huge honour, but this week Highlights of Hungary will open their voting system to the public, and it would mean a lot to me if my QMUL community could help me get Hamlet to the finish line.
“Hamlet is a 80-minute long reduced version of Shakespeare’s classic. We also added our own texts and even a Hungarian poem – it is very much the company’s version. In the first half of the performance the audience is sitting outside the Stadium of Debrecen, while the performers are inside the building behind glass. The audience listens to the actors’ mics through headphones, safely distanced from each other. In the second half of the show the actors leave the building and the show turns into a promenade performance outside the stadium, ending with the fencing scene in the stadium’s concourse. It is a piece about responsibility, death, grief and feeling stuck, which resonated with a lot of our audiences. Here is a trailer to give you a taste of the show:
“Every year Highlights of Hungary nominates 55 creative achievements in the country without categories. This year the line-up includes the National Ambulance Service, Lili Horváth’s award-winning movie which will probably be Oscar nominated, and many other achievements in sports, community service, environmentalism, innovation and architecture, to name a few. The aim is to celebrate achievements without labels and competition, to raise awareness and connect people across sectors. This is the Csokonai National Theatre’s first time being nominated.
I will be shouting from the rooftops on Twitter at @Franciska_E if anyone wants to come and support. Our hashtags are #vitrinhamlet#hamletinheadphones. As an English and Drama graduate, QM has been a huge influence on the way I work and the way I see performance. If there is interest I am happy to talk more about this and the challenges of making socially distant work if that is of any interest for current students.
Thank you so much for supporting us. Let’s celebrate something that happened in this very bleak 2020.
There’s some unmissable events coming up for you to get valuable insight and develop your confidence in these uncertain times.
Media & Creative Industries Summit
Thursday 28 January, 5.30 – 7pm
An online panel session of speakers in publishing, media and journalism, with the aim of helping students broaden their connections and knowledge within this field. Speakers – all alumni of SED – work at organisations including the BBC, Orion, Al Jazeera, and Sky.
Making the most of Semester B and finding opportunity in a challenging job market
Friday 29January, 12-1pm
This is a talk exclusively for Humanities and Social Science students, particularly those not sure how to start or progress their career thinking and planning during Covid. This session will focus on the opportunities and events available right now to explore career options, make plans, and gain experience.
Tailored specifically to the SED cohort, this short series of three workshops aims to help students understand the skills they are gaining from their English and Drama degrees; make decisions about avenues they would like to explore and pursue; get an introduction to working for themselves (which may be of particular interest to those interested in a writing or arts career); and engage with ways of presenting themselves to prospective employers, connections, and clients.
Starting off with online speed networking with QM Humanities alumni, this series of events aims to demonstrate to Humanities students the broad range of options available to them, and arm them with the knowledge and skills to allow them to follow their chosen path.
Further details are in PDF which you can download via the button below…
Like most Drama alumni, my fondest memories take place in the Pinter Studio, where most of our performances happened.
These vary hugely from the absolute terror (and then elation) of exam pieces to the hilarity of watching my housemates perform ridiculous sketches at the student run variety evening “Slappin’ da Bass”. It’s mad to think of what’s taken place over the years in that studio for so many students. There was a tradition for doing a slightly tipsy last run-through of QMTC plays the night before public performances opened to attempt to shed any nervousness of messing it all up on the night (to varying degrees of success).
My absolute favourite night of the whole three years was during the “Performance Composition” module (if you’re a current Drama student, this is one you absolutely must sign up for). Run at the time by the wonderful Stacey Makishi, whose practice combines radical mutual openness with the bizarre and surreal.
During this module students performed 5-10 minutes solo shows every week to the public, providing a constant state of terror and adrenaline for everyone enrolled on it. On the last week, after the graded performances had been completed, we each performed “in the style of” one of our class mates, treading the fine line between caring for and honouring our peers’ creativity whilst performing some of the most bizarre pieces I’ve ever seen, to hilarious effect.
Tell us about Fear Naut. How did it come about and how can people get involved?
Fear Naut is a magazine conceived and created from start to finish by women who live on boats.
One year after graduating from QMUL I moved onto a narrow boat on in London, something many students will have considered living and studying right next to the Regents! It wasn’t exactly new to me, I was born on a barge in Bristol and have always worked on boats, but I loved it immediately. What I loved most were the people I met. The boating community is so supportive, caring and full of huge personalities. I found quickly that so many of us were creative in some way, but living on a boat is like a part time job, and so many of my friends rarely had the time to give their creativity the attention it deserved.
“We stand for the empowerment of women and non-binary folk, strong community, DIY, and the freedom to live as you please. Boat women are creative, brave and independent. We have a wealth of creativity and experience with a unique and special view of the world and we want to share that with you. This is a magazine for people living on the water, for those interested in alternative ways of living – from creatives and dreamers, to activists and environmentalists and many more.”
Boat Women had such a unique view of the world, and the creativity to translate that to something that a much wider audience would find interesting and inspiring.
Once I’d had the idea the rest happened so organically, I posted on the London Boat Women Facebook group (best FB group in the world!) and 15 women came to the initial meeting wanting to be involved. This was slightly terrifying, but the numbers quickly shrunk to three, Asha, Estelle (who luckily owns a Risograph printing studio in Hackney Wick!), and me.
We’ve just published Issue 2 and already can see how much the magazine will grow and develop with each Issue. We’re both learning as we go along. Issue three is on “Growth” and will come out in early summer. If you’re a boating lady or non-binary person you can email us your ideas for contributions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who or what are your inspirations?
My friends and community inspire me more than anything, those people who have an idea and make it happen. It’s those people that have turned me from someone who would read a book and think “How does anyone have the time and tenacity to put so much work into something?” to someone who thinks that if you want to do something, you can, and that’s the only way it will happen.
You work as a Diversity and Inclusion Facilitator. How can arts and culture be genuinely more inclusive?
It has to start from the top down. I don’t think an organisation run by straight white men can ever be truly inclusive, we need people in power within the arts who are black, trans, non-binary and neurodivergent to be making the big decisions, and only then will we get to the place we need to be.
What advice would you give to Drama students about making their own projects and life after QM?
You’ll all go through that period of time when you’re applying for every job on ArtsJobs that comes through (and definitely do this!) but you don’t have to wait for someone to employ you to do something worthwhile. Whether it’s a community project, creative project, or skill you’d like to learn more about, do it! Say yes to as many things as you can, you never know where they’ll lead.
Our very own Martin O’Brien will talk about his practice and research in relation to ideas of care, community, and solidarity in times of illness. He will discuss his notion of Zombie Time, or the temporal experience of living on longer than expected, as a way of understanding mortality and chronic illness.
Join Project Phakama (arts organisation based at QMUL) on Sunday 17th January 2021 for Project Phakama’s very first Digital Festival! To kick off Phakama’s 25th birthday celebrations they’ll be hosting a day’s festival called Power to the people, exploring the theme of ‘resistance‘.
Over the course of a day participants will come together to explore the things we are resisting. You’ll be able to choose from a range of workshops exploring movement, art therapy, creative writing and photography, sharing your ideas and building a small piece of performance to showcase to the group.Come along to revel in Phakama’s brilliant philosophy and people, feel inspired and explore something new.
Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and the Natural History Museum (NHM) are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded doctoral grant from October 2021.
This studentship is funded for 3.5 years full time (or part-time equivalent). The project will investigate provenance information for the botanical specimens in the Sloane Herbarium, a foundation collection of NHM, to re-imagine our understanding of its global and imperial dimensions.
Julie Rose Bower (Drama) has been commissioned by Victoria & Albert Museum to make ASMR videos. These will be released throughout this first quarter of 2021 and she hopes they will provide some stress relief deep in the cloister of the archive.
Feather Pen Blog is a creative writing platform managed by SED student Aysel Dilara Kasap that welcomes any type of writing and writers from all backgrounds. Our mission is to offer a creative space for all writers and aspiring writers to unleash their creativity. We want to help fellow writers to share their work, in this age in which rejections are more common than acceptance.
We’re open for submissions for all of our categories which include fiction (short stories and scripts), poetry and lifestyle (includes most kinds of non-fiction from articles, book reviews, film reviews, personal blog entries to travel accounts to anything you want to share). We especially encourage submissions for the fiction section. We’re also open to discuss any column ideas. Send your submissions or pitches to email@example.com.
Vanessa Damilola Macaulay (Drama) Photography and memory, ritual and writing come together in Vanessa Damilola Macaulay’s inquiry into racialised experiences of breath and breathlessness, from violent anti-blackness to Fanon’s revolution.
Elliot Morsia (English Alumnus) has published a ground-breaking new study of D. H. Lawrence with Bloomsbury Academic Exploring draft manuscripts, alternative texts and publishers’ typescripts, The Many Drafts of D. H. Lawrence reveals new insights into the writings and writing practices of one of the most important writers of the 20th century. Focusing on the most productive years of Lawrence’s writing life, between 1909 and 1926 – a time that saw the writing of major novels such as Women in Love and the controversial The Plumed Serpent, as well as his first major short story collection – this book is the first to apply analytical methods from the field of genetic criticism to the archives of this canonical modernist author.
The book unearths and re-evaluates a variety of themes including the body, selfhood, the sublime, trauma, death, depression, and endings, and includes original transcriptions as well as reproductions from the manuscripts themselves. By charting Lawrence’s writing processes, the book also highlights how the very distinction between ‘process’ and ‘product’ became a central theme in his work.
Nineteenth-Century Religion, Literature and Society: Disbelief and New Beliefs, edited by Clare Stainthorp (a new Leverhulme ECF in the School of English and Drama) and Naomi Hetherington was published in December as part of a four-volume Routledge resource. The volume explores the transformation of the religious landscape of Britain and its imperial territories during the 1800s as shaped by Bible criticism, science, esotericism, comparative religion, and freethought. It introduces and makes accessible diverse primary sources, from novels and poetry to sermons and pamphlets.
Emily Redpath (Drama alumna) is starring in a socially distanced and cleverly filmed version Romeo & Juliet and highlighted by the Guardian’s Chris Wiegand.
Tudor Networks works in a similar way to platforms such as Google Maps. It offers to possibility for users to view almost 100 years of history from a macro perspective. Just like Google Maps might reveal streets that had never been mapped before, this platform reveals hidden histories and network connections that were previously unknown.
WONDERER (SED Student Run Literary Journal)has launched it’s first issue and includes incredible examples of our students’ workincluding work on consciousness and race, South African fiction, gender displacement and much more fascinating lockdown reading.
Your Advisor: first point of contact for help with your university life. Book an appointment by email or via the scheduler on QMPlus (during the semester). If you don’t know who your advisor is find out here.
QMSU is independent and works for students, it has lots of resources and advocacy and events to help you.
Togetherall is the student mental health platform QMUL subscribes to. Use it to do a course or connect anonymously.
b) In-Crisis & Emergency Support
Emergency numbers: 999 for life or death emergencies and 111 on your phone for urgent health advice. 020 7882 3333 if you need campus emergency team.
Helplines:Samaritans (crisis phone/chat support), Student Minds (tailored mental health support for students) and search for your local council’s mental health support provision. Tower Hamlets for example has a 24 hours crisis line.
Connection: Be the one who reaches out and use real talk to discuss real things going on not just. You’d be surprised how many people respond well to this. There’s still time to join societies, contact old friends and meet new ones.
Exercise: Use the Couch to 5k or other similar apps to get into a routine of exercise that can improve your mood. Move around when studying to different places at home and at university if you need study space.
You will also get the chance to take part in live subject panel sessions with current students, which will include a Q&A where you can ask questions about your subject of interest. The event will close with our semi-live digital tour, where you will be able to explore our Mile End campus and take part in a text Q&A session to find out more about living and studying at Queen Mary.
ENGLISH – POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH SEMINAR ‘Hear the sledges with the bells- Silver bells! What a world of merriment their melody foretells!’- Santa Poe Join the PGRS team on 10/12 for their PhD panel & ap-POE-priately festive Christmas Quiz! Sign up in teams of up to 4 now and watch here for more soon https://forms.gle/AtYYg3LJByYr1N
‘Sh!t Actually’ is Backtually3-5 Dec – Rose Theatre and 12-23 at Home Manchester QMUL Drama graduates Sh*t Theatre present their provocative and hilarious festive rework of Love Actually to prove ‘Love Actually is All Around’.
‘Best Alternative Christmas shows’ (Evening Standard). ‘No other alternative Christmas shows’ (Global Apocalypse)
Written and performed by Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver of Split Britches, it is a series of verbal and physical essays that playfully dances through the dangerous intersections of permanence and impermanence, interdependence and care, knowledge and experience, narcissism and echoes.
“The Fall of the Berlin Wall launched a wave of ecstatic raving and clubbing across Berlin. That wave’s force has carried the city’s clubbing scene right through to today—although it has met an unforeseen break in this year of Covid restrictions. For thirty years, the thump of bass has never gone so silent. In this paper, I’ll put my previous work on ecstasy and melancholy in Berlin around 1989 in dialogue with recent developments, as clubbers, DJs and producers contend with a moment in which collectives and crowds have become sites of anxiety. I’ll consider the attempts to replicate the clubbing experience online, as well as the irrepressible raving energies that have seen illegal parties take place against stringent public health measures.”
News & Links Alumni Profiles this month: Emily Rose Yates(English BA, 2013), Accessibility Consultant, Journalist & Speaker. Nathan Benitez (English BA), founder of afoodible.Creative Skills Academy: Rupert Dannreuther has run 3 online creative skills workshops and 2 in-person drop-ins for students, staff and friends. These will continue in semester 2 on Wednesday afternoons. Thanks to all who have attended so far.
Examine Clean Break’s impact on contemporary British theatre and the lives of the women it works with.
Examine Clean Break as an organisation, run by women for women, with distinctive organisational practices characterised by learning through listening to the voices of those involved in its work. It considers the implications of these practices for management and leadership more widely.
Create opportunities for artists, academics, women with experience of the criminal justice system and those who work with them, to share their expertise through seminars, training, podcasts and teaching resources.
Women/Theatre/Justice is the umbrella title for research and public engagement activities that are part of Clean Break: Women, Theatre, Organisation and the Criminal Justice System (2019-2021). This interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project is led by academics in theatre and performance studies and work and employment relations, in partnership with Clean Break theatre company.
Clean Break was initiated by women in HMP Askham Grange (UK) in 1977 and has since become an internationally recognised theatre, education and advocacy organisation that places stories of women, crime and punishment centre stage.
Through seminars, conferences, training, exhibitions, podcasts and publications, the project examines wider issues including: the criminalisation of women; theatre practices with incarcerated women in different cultural contexts; gender, organisation and leadership; worker voice; the role of higher education in partnerships within the criminal justice system; implications of COVID-19 for incarcerated women and the response of arts organisations.
A memorial bench for Catherine Silverstone was installed this morning in the First Floor garden/atrium in ArtsOne. It was organised and paid for by undergraduate students in Drama through a Crowdfunder.
Billy Bray (Drama), Leda Maiello (English) and Gwyn Lawrence (Drama graduate) organised the crowdfunder and carried out the practical work.
The following helped Billy, Leda and Gwyn spread the word and advertise for fundraising:
I’m so moved by – and proud of – the students who organised it, and those who crowdfunded it.
Dominic Johnson, Head of Drama
The quote on the plaque is from Catherine’s beautiful article on Derek Jarman. Leda (one of the students) chose it.
Do please visit the bench and think of Catherine when you’re next on campus.
Join a festival of free online events including coming of age poetry by local young people, a cook-a-long, community panels and eye-opening plays that explore the British-Bengali perspective. QMUL is a key partner and sponsor.
DR CATHERINE SILVERSTONE: Head of the School of English and Drama and a longstanding colleague in the Department of Drama at Queen Mary University of London, tragically passed away on Sunday 4th October 2020 at King’s College Hospital. Our thoughts are with her partner Julia, her family in New Zealand and her friends. We all loved and will miss Catherine more than we can ever say. Read more and leave a message of remembrance
LOCKDOWN SUPPORT: We would like to remind students and staff that there is emotional support for you at the college from Mental Health First Aiders to counselling services.
English Peer Assisted Study Support (PASS) 11 Nov, Online, 3pm BST – Free The next virtual English PASS drop-in session for First Year students takes place on Wednesday at 3pm (Week 8) via Blackboard Collaborate. Follow this link to access the module page and join the webinars: https://qmplus.qmul.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=13405. Week 8’s webinar is an open session – feel free to drop-in at any point to ask for any advice relating to your assignments or modules.
Artists had been referred to by corporations as the ‘perfect worker’, finding enjoyment and drive in their work despite the often-long hours and low pay. Now we are moving to a world where we are being encouraged to retrain, up-skill and evolve. TAF have invited independent performance maker and curator Xavier de Sousa and Professor Gerard Hanlon from the Centre for Labour and Global Production at Queen Mary University of London to discuss, from their own viewpoints, the idea of WORK & UTOPIA. They will be working through ‘what matters’. To them, to you, and what we should be thinking about in building strategies for change in a post-COVID world.
Five Bodies 12 Nov, Online, 6.30-8.30pm BST – Free Inspired by moments of unknowingness, invention and imagination, Five Bodies brings together some of the most outstanding British and international poets including our very own Nisha Ramayya to share experiences of contemporary poetry. Poetry vs Colonialism Series – Being Human Festival 14-22 Nov, Online – Free
Explore the histories of gold, sugar, cotton and tobacco with poets, artists, academics & museums. Join the online workshops to discover how poets can help decolonise the world.
Last Gasp WFH, looks for ways we might catch our breath in these times of global uncertainty, considering our ‘last acts’, whether personal, political or environmental.
Written and performed by Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver of Split Britches, it is a series of verbal and physical essays that playfully dances through the dangerous intersections of permanence and impermanence, interdependence and care, knowledge and experience, narcissism and echoes.
Genna Gardini (Drama PhD)has received the 2020 CASA award to finish my play, Many Scars.
She says: ‘I’ve been working on this thing for the past two years &it’s one of the biggest endeavours of my life – to write a play about MS that is just as strange as this disease is. Thank you, CASA! ‘
We are dedicated to supporting students with services like counselling, writing support, Mental Health First Aid and more.
12. Our diversity – and how you can make friends with people from around the world and from different socio-economic backgrounds.
e) Why choose to study in 2021?
13. Learn in lockdown and its aftermath.
Make the most of lockdown and beyond and learn something interesting with us. You can always choose to add a year abroad in your third year when hopefully travel will be less restricted.
14. Time to reflect.
University gives you time to reflect on the wider world, develop your values and try to change the world.
15. The experience of blended learning is benefiting students.
We work with students to improve our online and in-person teaching as much as we can. Lots of students have told us that some experiences work better online. Activities like meeting an advisor or participating in a text-based English class work really well online, so we will act on this feedback for 2021.
f) Why choose to go to university rather than other options?
16. Transferable skills.
You’ll have time to perfect your transferable skills, including writing, teamwork and creating your own projects.
17. Time for self-development.
You will have time outside of paid-work and time for internships and other opportunities that may be difficult to fit in around full time work or apprenticeships.
18. Meet curious people and make friends for life.
Lots of our students make friends for life on our courses. We are a friendly department and encourage students to talk and socialise outside of the workshop room.
g) Why do a humanities degree at all?
19. Humanities make us human – we need stories, critique and communication to challenge and celebrate the world we live in.
20. Humanities are relevant to so many careers and make you adaptable for jobs that don’t even exist yet.
21. You’ll find it easier to commit to, read and study about something you are passionate about.
On Friday 19 June 2020, the MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health organised the Second Edition of the Mad Hearts Conference, with the theme ‘Solitude and the Encounter’.
This one-day webinar included a conversation with Professor Femi Oyebode, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Birmingham, about the inner self and the function of imagination, drawing insights from Fernando Pessoa’s ‘The Book of Disquiet’. This was followed by Laura E. Fischer, an artist, mental health activist, and survivor-researcher who specialises in trauma. She spoke of reclaiming authorship of the trauma narrative through creative expression and she discussed how healing through art depends on three components: survivor leadership, embodiment and creativity.
The final speaker was John Richardson, a filmmaker (see Simon Says: Psychosis) and podcast presenter (Coffee and Psychosis), who sheds light on the mental health system through his documentary work. He spoke of his encounters with the mental health system, what was helpful and unhelpful to his recovery, and how he strives to be true to his values and remain authentic despite the pressure to conform to corporate views both in mental health and in film-making.
After the talks, three artists were nominated to discuss their creative work, which were submitted to the Creative Enquiry stream of the conference, together with a reflection on the theme ‘Solitude and the Encounter’. The painting ‘Shades of Solitude’ by Grace Catchpole, uses colour to capture the nuances of the experience of loneliness, from a peaceful place to rest to a darker experience of grief. The short film ‘Sound’ by Lorna V. represents the funny side of a missed online encounter, that between a client and her therapist, when the client can’t be heard because of a technological glitch and ends up talking to herself. Finally, the short animation ‘Plastic Bag’ by Harris Nageswaran reveals the power of a plastic bag to carry goods but especially love and care to those isolated in hospitals during the lockdown. The artwork ‘Isolation, a familiar issue disguised differently’, by Muhammad Umer, was chosen as the image for Mad Hearts 2020 for its portrayal of a person seen and not seen by the viewers, through the partly deceptive reflection of a mirror. You can view all submissions on the following website: https://sites.google.com/view/mad-hearts-2020/home.
The Mad Hearts Conference ended with a group discussion that included both participants and speakers. During these conversations, we heard from people from all different backgrounds, such as specialists in mental health, users of mental health services, medical students and students of the MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health. Together we delved into contemporary encounters concerning the arts and mental health, uniting clinical, artistic and research perspectives.
During said discussions, we reflected on the contribution of the arts to mental health practice, the agency in one’s own healing, equality in mental health services and the power of isolation. These conversations are important to encourage re-interpretations of contemporary mental health science and practice. It is thus crucial that we continue these discussions!
BLACK HISTORY MONTH: We are hosting an exclusive event with Helen Thomas and Professor Susheila Nasta. Follow us on Twitter to get alerts when booking is live. See below for an exclusive event by Peach x Diaspora Speaks student-led media.
Watch the first Postgraduate Research Series Dr Yann Ryan talk below and follow on Twitter for details of the next events with Dr Jason Allen Paisant (Leeds) on 29 October.
Quorum is back! Autumn Virtual Quorum is excited to invite you to Dr @Kirsty Sedgman’s talk ‘How to Make the World Give a Sh*t About Theatre (Studies)’ See you on 22 October at 7:30pm, on Zoom. All welcome, request the link to our email.
In this session, Nisha Ramayya will introduce and read from her poetic sequence ‘Now Let’s Take a Listening Walk’, part of the ongoing project Crossing the Rackety Bridge Between Tantric Poetics and Black Study. These poems began during a residency at John Hansard Gallery, at the exhibition Many voices, all of them loved, curated by poet and academic Sarah Hayden.
Also check out Deep Deep Dream: Transmissions by Ignota Books is an experiment in the techniques of awakening and an invitation to touch the dreamworld, which features Nisha’s work from 14 Oct.
Peach × Diaspora Speaks Presents: On Black Voices 22 Oct, Online, 6-8pm BST – Free
Peach Magazine and Diaspora Speaks Magazine have collaborated on designing this the event: “On Black Voices”. It will be an open-mic night dedicated to Black History Month and showcasing the voices of Black artists!
We’re currently looking for speakers for the event. If you want to join Diaspora Speaks and Peach Magazine on this night to share something powerful then sign up using the link: https://forms.gle/yjhMSqxy4VpRU8ju9.
Our Head of Drama Dominic Johnson is in conversation with James Campbell at Intellect Books for its extended “Intellect Live Art” virtual conference.
News & Links
Brian Dillon (Creative Writing)’s Suppose a Sentence is out now from Fitzcarraldo Editions (and NYRB in the US). He’ll be doing some online events in the coming weeks: with Olivia Laing at the LRB Bookshop on 6 October; with Vinson Cunningham of The New Yorker for Community Bookstore in Brooklyn on 8 October; and with Stuart Kelly at Blackwells, Edinburgh on 15 October.
Jen Harvie (Drama) Catch TWO new episodes of Professor Jen Harvie’s podcast Stage Left, where she interviews performance makers on what they make and how they make it. New episodes are with FK Alexander who works with noise, pop culture, and delicate care in performances including VIOLENCE and (I Could Go on Singing) Over the Rainbow, and with Krishna Istha, discussing their stand-up comedy on trans identity, Beast.
The Stage Left back catalogue includes interviews with Split Britches (including SED’s own Professor Lois Weaver), Breach Theatre (including SED MA alumnus, director Billy Barrett), and SED alumni Sh!t Theatre (Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit).
Places of Solitude The ‘Pathologies of Solitude’ project launches its first podcast series on 19 October, looking at places and experiences of solitude and how these have changed over the centuries. Topics range from gardens, cities and sanctums, to potentially perilous places like prison cells and even the human mind. The series also includes extended pop-out interviews with Shokoufeh Sakhi, a former political prisoner held in solitary confinement in Iran, and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Matt Rubery (English) has been given a small British Academy grant for a project titled ‘Projected Books for Veterans with Disabilities’. This will be the first history of Projected Books, Inc., a manufacturer of vertical projectors and microfilmed books for the use of disabled veterans in hospital beds. By displaying a book’s pages on the ceiling, projected books made it possible for thousands of people with disabilities in the United States and other parts of the world to read during the 1940s-1970s.
Liza Vallance (Drama graduate) CEO/Artistic Director at Studio 3 Arts Barking has raised £1.2 million for a makeover of the community centre which includes glitter ball, flagpole and theatre made of straw.