Between 13 and 17 June 2016, approximately 900 participants from around the world assembled at Stockholm University for the International Federation for Theatre Research conference. Under the theme ‘Presenting the theatrical past: interplays of artefacts, discourses and practices,’ the event played host to a lively exchange of ideas between academics, practitioners and researchers. These took place via several working groups that met throughout the week. Some of their topics included scenography, dramaturgy, adaptation, political performance, feminist research and performance as research. To help develop my research on madness in contemporary Shakespearean adaptations, I chose to take part in the performance and disability working group. There, I was able to form networks with academics from all over the world and learn about current issues facing disability movements and theatre. One presentation that especially stands out was “Materialising Genealogies/Disturbing the ‘Right Kind’ of Dementia Story” by Dr Janet Gibson from University of Technology Sydney. Her thesis regarding dramaturgical approaches for representing dementia both related to my own interests and opened my eyes to where else such research could lead.
In addition to participating in the working group, I also presented an abstract of PhD project in the New Scholars’ Forum (NSF). This being my first major conference, I was quite nervous to present my work to a large group of scholars. However, I found the experience extremely useful in developing both my public speaking and my research parameters. Since NSF is specifically designed to encourage a lengthy feedback period, I could speak directly with the audience about challenges in my work and find possible solutions. This process of fielding questions and constructive criticisms made me think more objectively about my research methodology and ask what more can be done. Furthermore, the experience helped build my confidence in communicating ideas. As I continue my PhD, I am sure my participation and skills developed here will be useful in future research endeavours.
Written by Molly Ziegler, PhD candidate in Theatre Studies