Up and Down: The Queer and Affective Potential of (the) Transition (from the Perspectives of a Director, Sound Designer, and Lighting Designer)



This article is an exploration of the ideas galvanizing our practice-based research. Structured as a dialogue between a director, sound designer and lighting designer, this piece explores how the nexus of queerness, affect and performance informs each of our specialist areas. We articulate how affect and queer theories drive our individual enquiries and use our experience of working together on the Australian premiere production of Lachlan Philpott’s promiscuous/cities to consider the relationships between our disciplines. We focus on moments of transition—common components of any theatre piece—as a way of interrogating how this interdisciplinary dialogue works within the development of the work and performance outcomes. Throughout this dialogue, we ask what the state of transition does for each of us when we make or see a piece of work—whether this be an experience of temporal instability, a rhythmic movement into a new state or a form of punctuation—and we consider how we can approach affect and queer thinking through these transitional moments. These moments of possibility are what excite us and push us to consider the potential of our individual practices through the experience of collaborative performance-making.

Author Biographies

Alyson Campbell, The University of Melbourne

Alyson Campbell is a freelance director and dramaturg whose work spans a broad range of companies and venues in Australia, the UK and the US over the last 30 years. Alyson is Professor in Theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, where her research, artistic practice as a director, teaching and activism converge around gender and sexuality, particularly queer performance and dramaturgies, contemporary representations of HIV and AIDS and feral pedagogies.

Meta Cohen, The University of Melbourne

Meta Cohen is a queer composer, dramaturg and sound designer working across music, theatre and interdisciplinary art. Meta’s music has been performed in diverse venues ranging from London Synagogues to the Sydney Opera House, and in theatre work, Meta specialises in sonic dramaturgy and musical thinking in theatre-making. Meta is currently undertaking a PhD at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Emma Lockhart-Wilson, The University of Melbourne

Emma Lockhart-Wilson is a lighting designer with a strong interest in the affective potential of interaction between performer bodies and designed elements.  Emma has designed lighting for companies including Australian Theatre for Young People, Monkey Baa, DeQuincy Co. and Version 1.0.  Emma is currently a PHD candidate at the Victorian College of the Arts researching affective scenographies in queer feminist performance in Australia.