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Talk #109

Hester Stefan Chillingworth

“No Bodies Here”

For a while I’ve been playing with ways to make performance work without performers in. Can eradicating the body on stage, undoing it, making it dismantle itself, obscure itself, carve open new space in which to consider what the body is and how it functions personally and politically in performance? Or is performance with no people in, dead before it starts? Having a trans body has drawn me to think a lot about the limits of the human form, or how we currently communally talk about it and draw signification from it. From live-streamed empty spaces to durational fights, to disembodied text and full body animal costumes, this exploration of how performance might work without the body of the performer present as we know it, has come into sharp focus since the world locked-down, and the currency of human presence seems to have become more valuable. I will discuss this work with particular reference to two current commissions I am making: The Extinction Trilogy (a triptych of devised performances) and Bigger Tree (a play for a theatre, to be performed by a computer).