The University of Melbourne
JGraffam MFA Thesis FINAL SUBMISSION March 2021.pdf (1.51 MB)

Making Cake Daddy: dramaturgies to ‘fatten’ the queer stage

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posted on 2022-07-07, 01:08 authored by Jonathan GraffamJonathan Graffam

This thesis examines the dramaturgical strategies used in making performance about fat identity. The research responds to fat activist performance scholar Jennifer-Scott Mobley’s call for of a ‘Fat Dramaturgy,’ and attempts to further the field by presenting unique insights and findings from within the process of making new performance work.1 The inquiry is framed by my dramaturgical practice, and that of the creative team, in the process of making Cake Daddy, an original stage work performed by fat- and queer-identifying artist Ross Anderson-Doherty. Given the powerful influence of queer activism and theory in consolidating and galvanising the nascent field of fat activist performance—and the queer identification and aesthetic of the Cake Daddy creative team—I address how queer performance strategies can be used to highlight the negative impact of dominant, medicalised narratives and the societal urge to pathologize fatness and, in doing so, encourage meaningful dialogue around other aspects of the lived experience of fat people: the social, cultural, political and sexual. Thus, I ask: what dramaturgical strategies can be used when making queer performance that frames and celebrates fat identity? By analysing moments of the Cake Daddy performance, I articulate how and why certain choices in composing these moments were determined in the creative process. I draw on the fields of fat studies, performance studies (dramaturgy) and queer theory, and situate the work within the wider field of fat activist performance. The thesis also offers an important and needed shift in the way fat activist performance is analysed by presenting perspectives from within the process of making it. Of particular significance, then, is my position as a practitioner-researcher embedded in the creative process.


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