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Ambivalence in Performance: Through Camp, With Joy

Ryan O’Shea


Ambivalence in performance: through camp, with joy is a research project interested in discovering the differences between performative ambivalence, performing ambivalence and ambivalence in performance. The research views the etymology and definition of the ambivalence through a lens of contemporary, devised performance. The research investigates the differences surrounding ambivalence in performance using a theoretical framework of camp, placing the tools of drag, queer failure, trash aesthetics and joy inside the framework of camp. After outlining theories of camp, and coining the hybrid word campbivalence, this thesis explore examples of how other performance makers have addressed ambivalence in performances through a camp theoretical framework. The method of practice-as-research was critical to this research and as such, this thesis explains how the process of making several performances over a two year period have helped better define performative ambivalence and performing ambivalence. Finally, as this research project is primarily concerned with performance making a traditional conclusion is abandoned in favour of a useful manual for performance makers in order to situate this research in the rehearsal spaces of performance makers. The thesis also uses a unique writing style of Écriture: Camp, in order to stylistically express and further highlight the importance of camp joy within this research project.

Supervisor: Dr. Pavlos Kountouriotis External mentor: Bosse Provoost

Keywords: Ambivalence, Camp, Joy, Ordinary, Écriture: Camp, Queer failure, Trash aesthetics, clowning

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