Get Thee Behind Me: The Back-Body as a Supporting Figure in Contemporary Performance


  • Matthew J. Tomkinson The University of British Columbia


When I read the call for papers for this special issue of Performance Matters, I was struck by the phrase “We approach the back in multiple senses.” Why, I wondered, is the back here construed as a passive surface, a sleeping creature on which we researchers do the sneaking up? By enacting what I call a “cheeky reversal,” this essay aims not to “approach the back in multiple senses” so much as to investigate the many senses in which backs and buttocks do the approaching.

Author Biography

Matthew J. Tomkinson, The University of British Columbia

Matthew Tomkinson is a PhD student in Theatre Studies at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on the intersections of disability studies, performance studies, and the health humanities. He is particularly interested in representations of cognitive difference and invisible illness in performance.