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Animated Edition - Summer 2020
Talking together / Queering together!
Performer, choreographer and teacher Andrew Waldron shares how the experience of and connections made in attending Queering the Somatic impacted him personally and influenced his studies

During my study on the BA (Hons) Professional Practice in Arts & Creative Industries programme at Middlesex University, I had the opportunity to attend the Queering the Somatic symposium. The topic of discussion within the symposium linked significantly to an inquiry topic I was completing within my studies, looking into ‘the landscape of how gender manifests in theatre and performing arts’. In conjunction with my independent research, I was interested to attend the symposium to engage in discussion with others about their experiences to help enrich and develop my own inquiry.

The process of my inquiry offered the opportunity to widen my understanding of how gender manifests in musical theatre and performing arts, looking particularly into transgender performers and how they are represented within the industry. It was my hope that by gaining a broader understanding of the landscape around gender, I could implement and incorporate understanding into my practice as a musical theatre teacher to promote further inclusivity and diversity.

Highlighted within my inquiry, was the notion of change needing to happen in society to implement changes in people’s understanding of gender, and how the performing arts sector can offer a platform for this to be shared. My inquiry revealed that changes have started to emerge within musical theatre, with transgender performers being cast in musicals on Broadway such as Wicked and Head Over Heels - casting which, I believe, promotes change in the binaries of characters/roles and promotes further awareness around transgender actors. In my view, changes such as these can promote awareness of the stories being told around trans people and are a shift I hope is consciously carried out across theatre around the world to promote diversity and equality of opportunity.

During the symposium, a member of the group attending expressed the view that “being queer is something that belongs to someone.” I found this a poignant statement, as I wanted to ensure that my research was ethical and offered a fair representation of the topic. It made me think further about the importance of conveying someone else’s story correctly, particularly if the experiences being discussed are not ones I have lived myself. It stressed the importance to me that, when sharing my findings, they are told with accuracy and empathy for others’ experience. This statement also challenged my way of reflecting on my own opinions in relation to other’s experiences and the benefit that having different opinions in life can have, providing there is a shared honesty and respect.

The symposium was a fantastic opportunity to share experiences with others I may not have met had the invitation not fallen my way. The experience reinforced my own belief of the positive influences of sharing practice and experience and gave me a much deeper and informed discussion that I took through my inquiry process and maintain within my current professional practice.

 

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Photo credit

Photo: Cheniece Warner

 

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Animated: Summer 2020