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Performing as Methodology

Screen shot 2012-10-10 at 14.47.12While the Performing the Issue and Performing Persona see Weaver drawing on her own practice to engage with the public, she has also used performance as a methodology for others to draw on. Performing as Methodology collects a range of workshop models and techniques. It shows how performance can support a research practice geared toward activating public inclusion.

In Performing as Methodology, performance becomes a research technique which Weaver brings to a variety of groups in a range of different institutions. Democratising Technology, for instance, was a collaborative research project in a university setting, produced across the Departments of Drama and Computer Science at Queen Mary, University of London. Performance in this instance worked as a technique for bringing people outside of the design worlds and academic context into the increasingly urgent conversation about the impact of technology on social arrangements. Staging Human Rights was a major international research and advocacy project with partners in Brazil and the UK, which drew on performance to connect issues of human rights and the criminal justice system. The ongoing Locating the Desire to Act workshop similarly deploys performance as a tool for anybody with a desire to make change in the world. Performing as Methodology, then, ultimately figures performance as a way to produce a concrete public impact.

Democratising Technology

This project examines the effectiveness of performance techniques in enabling people outside the design world to envision alternative social arrangements enabled by technological developments. It links performance methods with ordinary processes of technological appropriation to produce new techniques in design. Democratising Technology was a collaboration between the Departments of Drama and Computer Science [QMUL] co-investigators include Dr. Pat Healey and Dr Ann Light, Computer Science and Gini Simpson, Director of Digital/Media Arts, SPACE, London. Funded by the AHRC/EPSRC Designing for the 21st Century initiative and the Arts Council of England.

Recent History

  • Screen shot 2012-10-10 at 14.40.20Conference Panel: Democratising Technology, Performance Studies International 13, New York University, (Nov 2007)
  • Website:
  • The Not Quite Yet Exhibit, Space Gallery, London featuring work of five visual and performance artists commissioned to respond to research conducted in workshops (24 Jan – 1 March 2008)
  • The Not Quite Yet Symposium, (29 Jan 2008)
  • On the Margins of Technology Symposium, Space Gallery, London (Feb 2008)Screen shot 2012-10-10 at 14.45.36
  • Democratising Technology Professional Development Seminar, Space Gallery, London (Feb 2008)
  • Democratising Technology Workshop, Participatory Design Conference, Bloomington, Indiana (Oct 2008)
  • The Not Quite Yet DVD, a professional development resource for designers, activists and policy makers
  • Conference papers:

Light, A., Weaver, L., Healey, P.G. and Simpson, G. (2008), ​‘Adventures in the Not Quite Yet: using performance techniques to raise design awareness about digital networks’ Proc. DRS, Sheffield, (July 2008)

Staging Human Rights

This was a major international research and advocacy projects run by Peoples’ Palace Projects. It was initiated in the State of São Paulo in 2000, and went on to run in four distinct phases through to 2005 scaling up to a further 11 Brazilian states, reaching 20,000 prisoners and 1,000 prison guards over its six years. Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw and Caoimhe McAvinchy led the fourth phase of the project, which engaged female prisoners in the UK and Brazil. This phase comprised a series of workshops focusing on self-identity, fantasy and imagination. It culminated in a public event in Rio de Janeiro entitled In the House (June 2003). Politicians, Brazilian soap stars, students, artists, community workers and the general public attended. The event was a combination of performance, installation and open dialogue on the issues of human rights, the criminal justice system and performance.

All Aglow with Desire

This project demonstrates how Weaver’s practice often takes the theatre or exhibition work into more direct and longer-term commitments. All Aglow with Desire is an outgrowth of What Tammy Needs to Know about Getting Old and Having Sex (2008), a performance that engaged a wide range of audiences on questions about ageing bodies and continuous desire. In developing this piece, Weaver came in contact with the Association of Greater London Older Women (AGLOW), a group of women, over the age of 60, that works to raise awareness of ageism, homophobia and sexism. All Aglow with Desire is a series of performance workshops that were conducted in collaboration with AGLOW. The workshops aimed at multi-generational perspectives, and as such, Weaver coordinated and advised a group of QMUL finalists and recent graduates to develop this work further and to devise and direct public performance with the organization.

IMG_0111Recent History

  • Pinter Studio, Arts Building, Queen Mary, University of London, (9-10 April 2010)

Locating the Desire to Act

Inspired by the belief that if you can imagine something, you can make it and if you can make it, you can make it change, Locating the Desire to Act is a stand-up and hands-on workshop that explores the creative opportunities generated at the intersection of performance and activism. It is an intensive workshop on making independent socially engaged performance and performance interventions through a collaborative community process. It consists of 2 full-day workshops followed by individual process meetings and a public showing/presentation.

This workshop is open to anyone- whether a performer, an activist or neither. It will provide an open environment for exploration in which participants will be encouraged to locate their desire for change, to push past the issues they feel they should engage in and to find the ones with which they want to work. They will be led though a series of performance techniques that will provide tools for imaging and making an active response to their issue. Participants will then explore the vocabulary of horizontal organizing strategies associated with the Occupy movement in order to build community frameworks and support structures for making the work happen. The workshop will finally locate their desire to act in a public gathering. No longer a workshop but a working group, the participants will organize a showing of the performances designed for that event, documentation of performance interventions that took place prior to the event and/or provocations for future acts.

Creative Hosting

We have often witnessed debates where a little creative thinking might have encouraged more democratic participation; been to meetings where a simple round of introductions might have eliminated the awkwardness and an alternative arrangement of school furniture alleviated the boredom; sat through public dialogues where a few performance tricks might have helped the interviewer assist the interviewee in communicating complicated research findings and initiating true knowledge exchange and attended jam-packed conferences that could have taken advantage of the spaces in between.

This workshop explores practical techniques for facilitating creative public engagement in academic situations. During this 3 hour workshop, participants will consider alternative uses of institutional space; create their own hosting persona; design alternative public meeting structures; explore food, locality and custom as a means of meeting and greeting and devise conference interventions. It also engages in a critical investigation of issues (gender, race and labour) associated with hosting and hospitality. Participants are encouraged to develop and enact interventions created in the workshop throughout the weekend as a way of enhancing a conference experience.​

Take Away

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