Legibility of Non-Normative Body Images in Theater

    • Cover Porto 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Neal Leemput, Artist/Researcher, Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, Belgium


    My research focuses on the role of the body in the formation of an identity; and more specifically on non-normative body images. How do we read gender-specific body images, both in theater and in daily life? What reflexes have we developed in the interpretation of these body images? How can we break through normative frameworks of gender representation to achieve new interpretations of gender-specific body images? How do I, as a performer, respond to these interpretative reflexes and expectation patterns? I would like to exemplify these topics in a performance-lecture, based on the gender neutral character of my latest performance ‘Always The Tragic’. The gender of text and body shapes the identity of a character and moreover the relationship between characters on a theatrical stage, both by self-perception and in perception of the audience. Since most theater plays are written within a binary framework, it is interesting to explore how non-binary characters can add a specific theatrical tension to a performance. Additionally I will question the difference between a performed and a performative identity, using my own performance in comparison to the work of the German filmmaker R.W. Fassbinder. His work used to offer a quite controversial look on gender identity, sexuality and the transgender spectrum. Is this look less controversial today – now that we are being overrun by body images that do not respond to a (hetero)normative framework?