Sharing Stories: PhD Research

At the end of 2020 I completed a PhD at the University of Sheffield, funded by the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH). The experience of the completing the thesis and the viva is recorded in my blog post – I’m PhDone! My research project was practice-research investigating how family histories can be shared through performance experiences. 

Gérard Genette’s theory of transtextuality is my chosen analytical and making tool. Genette’s framework offers a useful set of terms that can help to unpick the relationships between and within performance experiences.

As a researcher, I developed performances that made use of my own family history and invited audience participants to reflect on theirs. I analysed the process of developing and sharing new performances that weave multiple texts into hypertexts. Some of these texts had physical presence in the performance work, in the form of objects, whilst other texts were integrated into spoken narrative or revealed through action.

In September 2017 I presented at the TaPRA conference on this topic. In the gallery at the conference, I invited delegates to play with a pack cards illustrated with photographs representing family history and performance. The intention was that every game played with the cards provided a new version of the performance hypertext and the cards become both document and performance experience.

My practice-research led to the development of a micro-audience performance game, Lines And Ladders. This is a storytelling board game played in a café, or similar place, that gives people an opportunity to share their family histories in a public space. There’s a Performance Diary blog documenting the experience of making and playing this game.

 

For information about papers and presentations that I have given, please visit: https://sheffield.academia.edu/KirstySurgey

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Detail from Lines And Ladders. Artwork by Shane Surgey.