Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar – School of Literature, Art and Media Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar – School of Literature, Art and Media

Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar


Dr Rakini Devi, Graduate of the School of the Arts, English and Media, University of Wollongong
Kolkata Kali: Tradition as transgression, the body and identity and performing female religious iconography”

Contemporary interpretations of Hindu iconography, specifically of the goddess Kali, who is the primary deity worshipped in my birthplace Kolkata, have become emblematic in my individual and possibly idiosyncratic performance practice. Fundamental to my methodology, is my adoption of Kali iconography as a protest against misogynist attitudes and atrocities committed against females particularly in India, as an example of similar misogyny in other countries. My recent exegesis: Urban Kali, From Sacred Dance to Secular performance (2018) and the doctoral presentation Urban Kali, (2017) extends the concept of tradition as transgression, and explores the tensions between the sacred and the secular through what might be described as contemporary feminist intercultural performance. The research suggests that contemporary performance utilising traditional Kali iconography can transcend and subvert cultural significance to express and embody feminine identity.

Dr Rakini Devi’s work can be described as intercultural hybrid performance art, integrating her knowledge of Indian Classical Dance and her own visual arts practice. Her inquiry into the female body as symbol, using sacred Hindu iconography as protest against misogynist atrocities are illustrated in her performance installations: The Female Pope (Sydney, New York, Sweden), The Widow, The Two Madonnas (Mexico 2014), Kali Madonna and The Black Madonna. Her highly stylized choreographic installations using her own crafted props and visual art have been presented in site- specific venues nationally and internationally. She completed a DCA (Doctor of Creative Arts, UOW) in 2018, presenting her exegesis, “Urban Kali: From Sacred Dance to Secular Performance”, and her doctoral presentation, “Urban Kali”, at the Lennox, 2017, produced by FORM dance and supported by UOW. In 2019, she travelled to India for two months, performing and teaching. Also in 2019, Devi presented performance installations at the Lock Up, Newcastle, and at Artbar, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. She continues her research-based practice in performance art, dance and visual art.

Lisa Schouw, Doctor of Arts Candidate, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Sydney
“Somewhere in the middle… ”

I am well and truly in the middle of my Practice as Research (PaR) thesis project. While I catch glimpses of where I have travelled from, I do not yet see the completed path ahead. Ian Maxwell often shares the metaphor of the journey through the forest, arrival at a clearing, and then re-entry into the forest as a means of understanding the human experience. At present, I am in a small clearing. I would appreciate an opportunity to share some of what I have gathered so far, starting from the following outline:

Society wrongly “looks upon old age as a kind of shameful secret that it is unseemly to mention” (Beauvoir, 1970: 7). My transdisciplinary Practice as Research (PaR) thesis titled “The Performance of Ageing: Somewhere Between Hello and Goodbye”, brings together three methods of enquiry, theatre and performance studies, depth psychology with its emphasis on mythology, and gerontology. This research seeks to interrogate the complexities of ageing, the discriminatory behaviours of ageism, and the accompanying narrative of decline. The spine of the work or what American choreographer Twyla Tharp calls “the statement you make to yourself outlining your intentions for the work” (2003:142) is informed by my overarching research question: what might be uncovered about the potentialities of ageing through a collaborative performance project undertaken by a group of older, highly experienced artists? A dialogue between gerontology, depth psychology, and theatre and performance studies provides a space for the exploration of different interpretations of the so-called ‘crisis’ of ageing. Here, the landscape becomes one of potentiality and possibility, rather than loss and discrimination.

Lisa Schouw (BCHC, MA, CMPACFA) is a Doctor of Arts Candidate in the Theatre and Performance Studies Department, University of Sydney. She has a Masters in Engaged Humanities & the Creative Life (Depth Psychology) from Pacifica Graduate Institute, USA. Schouw is a registered clinical psychotherapist working both in private practice and with adult students at a number of tertiary institutions in Sydney. She is a professional artist and a core faculty member at Actors Centre Australia (Sydney), teaching singing, acting, and voice.


AV Room (S113), Level One, John Woolley Building, University of Sydney
Entry via Manning Road (take the steps from footpath down into the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies)


Nov 08 2019


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm




John Woolley Building (A20)
University of Sydney NSW 2006

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