Kate Maguire-Rosier and Janet Gibson – Negotiating disclosure in performance: Dialoguing disability, disease and care

Kate Maguire-Rosier and Janet Gibson

Negotiating disclosure in performance: Dialoguing disability, disease and care

In conversation, Kate Maguire-Rosier and Janet Gibson explore the ways in which aesthetic performances by artists with disability and performers living with dementia negotiate medical narratives of disability and disease, raising issues around disability politics and feminist care ethics, which produces a tension – a resistance to, and an embrace of, ‘care’. Their dialogue addresses the different transactions of disclosure in the contexts of aesthetic performance and applied theatre from observations of Sydney-based Murmuration’s creative development of dance theatre work Days Like These (2017) and notes on the live staging of To Whom I May Concern® (2018) at Hill House Connecticut. 

Frequent calls for disability-led theatre practice (Marsh 2016a, 2016b, 2017) may be interpreted as an invitation to disclose, which refers to the sharing of information regarding personal ‘relationships to disability’ (O’Toole 2013). Yet people living with dementia do not necessarily see themselves as disabled, but rather as people living with a health condition or disease. What is more, recent incipient calls to arms from dementia activists have not yet resulted in that many performances on public stages. So, what do these acts of disclosure consist of, what is at stake in negotiating disclosure and what might be made possible through these transactions? It is from these questions that Maguire- Rosier and Gibson’s scholarly conversation proceeds, as they navigate the frictions and correspondences in their focal performances, with a particular interest in how these performers mediate disclosure in relation to the politics of identity and those of care.

Maguire-Rosier calls for acts of disclosure to be understood as performances of care: they may be visual and involuntary – in the mere appearance of an artist with Down syndrome on stage, ‘disclosure is performed’ (Kerschbaum 2014, p. 57); or they may be verbal and chosen – artists with hidden disability who articulate an experience about which ‘words cannot be seen as innocent’ (Burtsow 2013, p. 81). Gibson responds to Maguire-Rosier’s claims by examining how performers living with dementia enact disclosure as both creative expression and care. Yet, by critiquing their medical diagnoses, they politicise their disclosures.  The dialogue ultimately presents ‘irreconcilable insights’ inherent to care (Kelly 2011, p. 575). 

Duration: 40 minutes

Reference List

Burstow, B. 2013. A Rose by Any Other Name: Naming and the Battle Against Psychiatry. In: Lefrançois, B. A., Menzies, R. & Reaume, G. (eds.) Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies. Canadian Scholars’ Press Incorporated.

Kelly, C 2011, ‘Making ‘care’ accessible: Personal assistance for disabled people and the politics of language’, Critical Social Policy, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 562–82.

Kerschbaum, S. L. 2014. On Rhetorical Agency and Disclosing Disability in Academic Writing. Rhetoric Review, 33, 55-71.

Marsh, K 2016a, ‘Becoming leaderful: A personal reflection’, Critical Dialogues, vol. 2, no. 7, pp. 18–27.

Marsh, K 2016b, ‘Taking charge – Dance, disability and leadership: Exploring the shifting role of the disabled dance artist’, PhD thesis, Coventry University.

Marsh, K 2017, ‘Talk with Kate Marsh and Welly O’Brien’, symposium paper, 24 February Critical Path, Sydney.

O’Toole, C. J. 2013. Disclosing our relationships to disabilities: An invitation for disability studies scholars. Disability Studies Quarterly, 33.

Dr Kate Maguire-Rosier recently obtained her PhD on ‘care’ in Australian dance theatre by and with Deaf and disabled artists. Currently, she is Co-convenor of the International Federation for Theatre Research’s ‘Performance and Disability’ Working Group, Honorary Associate of the Theatre and Performance Studies Department at the University of Sydney and Projects & Programs Manager at Ausdance NSW. Her research has been published in the Australasian Drama Studies Journal, Theatre Studies International and Routledge edited collection ‘Theatre and Internationalization‘ edited by Ulrike Garde and John Severn. Email: kate.maguirerosier@gmail.com

Dr Janet Gibson is the Program Manager, Communication, at UTS College, University of Technology, Sydney. Her forthcoming book Dementia, narrative and performance: Staging reality, Reimagining identities is to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2020. Her most recent article ‘Talking out, talking back, talking otherwise: Dementia and access in autobiographical performance’ was published in Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, August 2018. Email: Janet.gibson@insearch.edu.au or jintyg@iinet.net.au