Panel –  A sector in crisis: strategies for survival – Helena Grehan, Oscar Tantoco Serquiña Jr., Joanne Tompkins, Asher Warren

We cannot deny that things are currently in a state flux, or perhaps even disarray across the sector, not just in Australia but across the globe.  The  uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 has infected all facets of life and has made work within the academy incredibly difficult – for those at all career stages.  The  aim of this  panel is to provide  strategies for ADSA members on  coping with and surviving this difficult period. The panelists will each offer some ideas and suggestions from their different positions and perspectives but the main aim is to provide plenty of time to listen to the very real concerns of members and to provide – where possible – solutions and support in response.  As an organisation ADSA has always been collegial and supportive and this panel seeks to mobilise this collegiality for the common good of conference attendees.

Helena Grehan is Dean of Research for Arts, Business, Law, IT and Social Sciences at Murdoch University. She has published widely on performance studies and creative arts more broadly. Her current work focusses on listening as both a political and ethical act both within and beyond the borders of the performance space. She is a member of AusStage, a founding member of the Digitisation Centre of WA and is the Deputy Editor of Performance Research.

Oscar Tantoco Serquiña Jr. is a PhD candidate in Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne, where he is working on a dissertation that explores sites of speech study, training, and performance in the Philippines from the 20th to the 21st centuries. He is also a faculty member in the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts at the University of the Philippines. His essays have appeared in Theatre Research InternationalHumanities DilimanKritika Kultura, the Philippine Political Science Journal, and the Philippine Humanities Review

Joanne Tompkins has just completed a three-year term as Executive Director for Humanities and Creative Arts at the Australian Research Council. She has returned to the University of Queensland where she is a professor of theatre. She has published widely on theatre. Her recent work visualises theatres that no longer exist. She is a founding member of AusStage, and is Chair of its Management Committee.

Dr Asher Warren is a Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Tasmania. His research explores intermedial, networked, participatory and collaborative practices, and the sites of contemporary artistic practice. He is a member of Performance Studies international, the IFTR intermediality working group, ADSA, and currently sits on the PSi Future Advisory Board.

Asher Warren – Living Rooms and Populist Listening


Asher Warren

University of Tasmania

Living Rooms and Populist Listening

In 2018, struggling with a sense of dislocation and strangeness after moving to a new city, I began a project to try and bridge a gap with between myself and what seemed to be the dominant force in the local theatrical ecology: the musical theatre crowd. Since then the project (Living Room Musicals) has moved through a series of stages, to approach a public launch in 2020. It was planned to be launched at the Australian Musical Theatre Festival in Launceston, which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The project itself, which consists of a ‘do-it-yourself’ musical theatre toolkit to empower people to express their own place-based stories, rather than reciting Broadway narratives, and perform them in their homes for family and friends, has taken on some unexpected urgency in a time of quarantine by social isolation. However, this presentation seeks to examine the process that had led to this stage; reflecting on the workshops across the state of Tasmania with musical theatre enthusiasts from across the community. On the one hand, it is to unpack a model of engagement with theatrical production and reception I wish to term ‘populist listening’, expanding on the paradoxes that Philip Auslander (2008) teases from the Milli Vanilli lip-sync scandal regarding the live performance of music, and turning these toward the production and reception of musical theatre, with a focus on the overwhelming familiarity of the musical theatre ‘canon’. On the other, it is to track my own adventures into territory I would not otherwise venture; and coming to re-evaluate my own assumptions, prejudices and values. Through examining a range of acts that in the first instance were intended to gather data; I explore how they have accumulated a longer tail of unexpected associations.

Dr Asher Warren is a Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Tasmania. His research interests include intermedial and networked performance, participatory and collaborative practices, and the sites of contemporary artistic practice. He is a member of ADSA, PSi, and the IFTR intermediality working group, and currently sits on the PSi Future Advisory Board. His writing has been published in Performance Paradigm, Performance Research, Australasian Drama Studies, Refractory: Journal of Entertainment Media, and in the edited collection Performance in a Militarized Culture (2017).