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Holding Things Together (And What Falls Apart...) Encountering and Dramatising Austerity with Women in the North East of England

RAYNOR, RUTH,ISABELLA (2016) Holding Things Together (And What Falls Apart...) Encountering and Dramatising Austerity with Women in the North East of England. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



A group of women in the North East of England; all mothers, all out of paid work or in low waged temporary employment; women getting on and getting by amidst austerity. But what does austerity become for these women? How does it surface and register in their everyday lives through a series of fragmented encounters? Together, we developed a fictional play to explore what austerity becomes in the midst of other things. Encounters ranged from the un-dramatic to the almost intense and evental, from an empty flowerbed at the end of the street to service closure and a loss of support. In our play we tried to make a story of austerity through these and other disparate encounters, but the plot kept falling apart. Our attempts to dramatize austerity using theatre-as-method revealed its multiplicity and incoherence. As austerity differently met and co-constituted the lives of women in a supposedly shared demographic, it disrupted opportunity for collective experience, so that even austerity was not related to or lived as a common object. Although moments of stubborn conviviality continued in and between the lives of women, austerity became present as an intensification of existing processes of precaritisation that engendered forms of fracturing and dissonance. This disrupted women’s energy and opportunity to flourish through existing forms of attachment to one another, to family life and to other forms of unpaid care. The thesis, like our play, tells a story of how for these women fragments of austerity act in the midst of other things, and of how encounters with austerity move between the dramatic and the ordinary, the personal and the generic, the situation and the event. And in that context, the thesis and the play explore what, for these women, holds together and what falls apart.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Austerity, Theatre, Women, Region, Affect, Creative Methodologies, Unpaid Labour, Worklessness, Precarity, Precariousness, Precaritisation
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 Aug 2016 16:40

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