The performance doula

The Performance Doula is an invitation to re-imagine production models, centring care work as a

crucial aspect of how performances are created. It draws inspiration from queer and feminist theory
and anti-capitalist thoughts, as well as from the lived experience of artists and their somatic
understanding of the field. Learning from the work of birth workers and specialized care providers
such as doulas, this project challenges neoliberal expectations and invents nurturing and
interdependent artistic strategies. This proposal is a structural and artistic investigation of the cultural
field, focusing particularly on body-based practices such as dance and performance.

Inspired by the semantic and somatic parallels between the experiences of production and
reproduction, this project works with the metaphor of creating performances as a birthing process,
and asks: If our works are our babies, what kind of feminist queer parenting strategies do we want
to raise them into? Which support systems do we need from conception, through labour, and
during our post-partum phase? Introducing the idea of a performance doula, what would this job
entail and how would the presence of specialized care workers in the cultural field change how we
work in terms of structure, methodologies and authorship?

This research will entail a rigorous observation of the performance field to understand how care work
is currently distributed: surveys and interviews with artists will establish a state of current affairs. We
will learn care strategies from doulas. Artistically, we will take inspiration from non-repronormative
parenting structures, bringing in practices such a surrogacy, baby-sitting, and co-parenting, and
implementing them in rehearsals. We will also focus on post-partum care and recovery, developing
methodologies for rest and inventing more sustainable production rhythms.

The initial phase of this research (conceptualisation) was supported by MUK University (Wien) and Mollusca productions.