Our most recent workshop, an exploration of toilets through the art of performance, was held at Manchester Deaf Centre on Saturday 18th July. Jess, Loz and Rohan from the queer poetry, art, and theatre collective, Queer of the Unknown, facilitated the session in a way which was relaxed and comfortable, even for those of us who – like me – were nervous about performing in front of others. Activities ranged from the absurd to the serious; using our bodies, experiences and ideas to respond to toilets in physical ways which were new, exciting and different from the conversations we’d had in previous workshops.
For our first performance piece, we divided into pairs to dramatize toilet action using movement and sound, but no words. Performances included secret sexual encounters, covert graffiti, the loud threat of the hand-dryer and getting locked inside a cubicle. So many of our toilet encounters take place without verbal communication that this felt like quite a familiar and comfortable mode of expression which also helped us to get used to the feeling of being silly in front of each other.
In another activity, we were invited to imagine our bodies shrinking down to a size which allowed us to fully enter the toilet system. As a group, we swam down into the toilet bowl and then made our own discoveries of what existed past the U-bend. Some found mermaids, fish, and other exciting treasures, and others discovered less creative offerings, such as my own encounter with a ginormous barricade made of fused toilet roll and excrement.
One of the final activities required a different type of creativity. We were asked to conceive of a toilet door covered in graffiti. Amongst all of the gossip, sleaze and slander, we discovered a beautiful sonnet. It was our task to write that sonnet over the next half an hour. Some participants explored their feelings of toilet anxiety, whilst others took the opportunity to serenade and romance their favourite loo.
This was a fun, relaxed day which allowed us to express important ideas and experiences in colourful and poignant ways. Thank you Queer of the Unknown!
At our next workshop on Tuesday 11th August we’ll be exploring toilet politics whilst getting creative with art materials. For more details take a look here. Hope you can make it along!
– Written by Charlotte Jones, Research Assistant on the Around the Toilet project