'Embodiment is never a private affair': autobiography, memory and improvised performance'

Rea Dennis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Train Tracks and Rooftops emerged from working extensively within the body memory method for devising that is central to my practice-as-research. Through memory fragments of our own childhood places of refuge, Train Tracks and Rooftops sets out to explore how the way in which a child claims self (selves) and how place - outside the familial - creates meaning and builds identity. Following a devising method based on the notion that memory is inscribed, locked in our muscles like sediment, this paper presents finding from this practice as research project. Drawing on a range of examples it discusses the way in which improvisation enables unselfconscious disruption of self-censorship and other resistances as the artist seeks pathways into the layers of sedimentation/memory in what is an investigation through physical and spatial vocabularies for performance. I interrogate the way in which notions of honesty and truth are contested when working with autobiography and how memory is revealed in and through the making process and in performance in a way that suggests autobiography, body memory and improvisation are equal in live performance and compellingly exposing of the performer. I attempt to frankly present the findings in relation to performer exposure and explore experience of intimacy in performance. Part of the sense making or dramaturgical process is guided by the idea that 'the experience of being embodied is never a private affair, but is always already mediated by our continuing interactions with other human and non-human bodies'.Train Tracks and Rooftops is a contemporary performance piece produced by Lembrança with the support of the ACW and is an international collaboration drawing on iconic spatial metaphors from Wales, Australia and Brazil in an exploration of childhood memory of place and the search for emplacement outside the materiality of the home and the family.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationN/A
Publication statusUnpublished - 1 Jan 1990
Event Annual Australasian Drama and Performance Studies Association conference - 'Stripping Bare' - The Australian National University
Duration: 29 Jun 20102 Jul 2010


Conference Annual Australasian Drama and Performance Studies Association conference - 'Stripping Bare'


  • autobiography
  • performed memory
  • embodied dramaturgy


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