This paper takes as its theoretical starting points two ideas:(1) Sheila Preston’s (2013) discussion of emotional labour; and (2) ‘safe space’ as explored by Mary Ann Hunter (2008). It considers how ‘tyranny of distance’ may be re-imagined as the ways in which the applied theatre facilitator effectively manages the emotional distance (or closeness) that arises when working with participants from different backgrounds, some of whom experience exclusion. What are the specific ‘feeling rules’ that govern the shared space? What effect does emotional labour have on both the facilitator and participants? By bringing emotional labour into conversation with safe space, we consider the conditions necessary for the creation of a safe space to effectively engage in emotional work for those involved. This collaborative paper between researcher and applied theatre facilitator (themselves working across a ‘tyranny of distance’) draws on interviews and reflective journals as informing data.
Natalie Lazaroo has a PhD from Griffith University (Brisbane), where she is currently lecturing. Her doctoral research was an ethnographic study of the community performance work of Vulcana Women’s Circus. Natalie’s research interests include applied and community performance, feminist theatre, physical theatre, disability studies and research methodologies.
Izzaty Ishak is an applied theatre practitioner and community worker in Beyond Social Services. She leads The Community Theatre performance where she brings youths from various income class to devise and perform social issues in low-income communities. As a practitioner, she has worked in various communities such as people with dementia, prisoners, vulnerable youths and families at risk.
Natalie and Izzaty are collaboratively exploring the possibilities of research and practice through friendship as method and narrative inquiry