Creative Encounters in the Archive:
: Queering the Performance Collection of Eddie Ladd

  • James Woolley

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Creative Encounters in the Archive: Queering the Performance Collection of Eddie Ladd draws on the field of performance studies, the practice of archiving and the critical framework of queer theory in order to argue that the practice of archiving can produce archives as sites of creative potential. Recent approaches in performance studies have examined artistic interventions into archives as well as the archive’s role in debates surrounding performance’s ephemerality. This thesis seeks to re-­examine the latter notion, arguing that both performance and archive are predicated on transience and are equally precarious. The thesis also aims to bring performance studies into a closer engagement and conversation with archival practices. In doing so, it seeks to advocate for a greater understanding in performance studies of the professional processes involved in making performance’s remains available, through which the creative potentiality of archives are realised. The research uses a queer theoretical lens, with emphasis on its foregrounding as a deconstructionist strategy and epistemological enquiry, to engage with literature on archives and archival practices in considering the various stages that are undertaken in the construction of an archive. The thesis thereby aims to “queer” key notions traditionally associated with archival practice, such as archival sites, arrangement, evidence and users, in order to argue that archives of performance are sites of creative potentiality. The opportunity to test theoretical hypotheses is achieved through my engagement with a collection belonging to Welsh performer and theatre-­maker, Eddie Ladd. This self-­archived collection, which evidences a career that has already spanned two and a half decades, is at present not deposited institutionally but still exists in a constant state of accumulation as Ladd continues her professional practice. In my use of Ladd’s collection as a case-study, I reflect on the eventful, transitory encounters that I have with her archival materials (as a practical methodology), which results in the archive being conceived as a site of creative potential when examined through a queer epistemological frame. Comprised of three parts, this thesis engages with current scholarship regarding performance and archives and establishes its queer epistemological and deconstructionist strategies in Part 1. Part 2 puts these queer epistemologies into practice by examining the constitutive parts and processes that create an archive. Part 3 proposes a reconceptualisation of the notion of the ‘user’ of archives, comparing the process of examining archival material with issues relating to performance spectatorship and authorship.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorHeike Roms (Supervisor) & Karoline Gritzner (Supervisor)

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