Performance Workshop Summary

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.

Toilet love letter

[Image: An image of a tweet which includes a photo of a hand-written ‘love letter to the Toilet’ with the sonnet rhyming pattern written down one side of the paper.

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

Forthcoming Workshops

Performance Workshop

Saturday 18th July 2015, 12pm – 4pm, Manchester Deaf Centre, Manchester

This free workshop, led by Queer of the Unknown, will be an informal investigation of toilets – our thoughts, ideas and experiences – through the medium of performance. If you live in or near Manchester, identify as trans*, queer and/or disabled, and you’d like to attend the workshop, please sign-up using our Eventbrite page, or get in touch with Jenny Slater (j.slater@shu.ac.uk). No prior experience of performance is required. Free lunch, tea and coffee will be provided on the day and funds are available to cover local travel costs and childcare. Workshop places are limited.

Making/Creating Workshop

Tuesday 11th August 2015, time TBC, Z-arts, Hulme, Manchester

Led by researchers on the Around the Toilet project, this free workshop will explore toilet politics whilst getting creative with art materials. Participants will make their own props and exhibits to use in toilet activism or to take home and put up on the wall. If you live in or near Manchester, identify as trans*, queer and/or disabled, and you’d like to attend the workshop, please sign-up using our Eventbrite page or get in touch with Jenny Slater (j.slater@shu.ac.uk). No prior artistic skills needed. Free lunch, tea and coffee will be provided on the day and funds are available to cover local travel costs and childcare. Workshop places are limited.

For further details about the workshops or for more information about the project, please contact Jenny Slater (j.slater@shu.ac.uk).