The politics of neo-burlesque: an investigation into the performer–audience relationship

HALEY, Claudia Jazz (2021). The politics of neo-burlesque: an investigation into the performer–audience relationship. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The performer–audience relationship in live Contemporary Burlesque entertainment is carefully produced, developed, and maintained. All participants (compere, audience, and performer) understand and acknowledge that the performer has full agency, is aware of being watched, and is able to see and respond directly to the audience. Together, they are able to give consent to, contribute towards, and create an explorative environment. This interaction allows the potential for such a relationship to develop into one of mutual vulnerability, respect, agency, and trust. Within this curated space, unheard voices and narratives that are alternative to the societal status quo can be platformed and witnessed. The aim of this research is to adequately articulate this specific relationship, where other researchers in this emerging field of research have not. To do this, specific research questions have been asked: 1. How are performer–audience relationships created across Contemporary Burlesque? 2. How are performer–audience relationships experienced across Contemporary Burlesque, in terms of vulnerability and voyeurism? To address these questions, a methodology was designed to include theory, observational, and interviewing methods. I then created a Burlesque persona, Arabella Twist, to develop a reflexive, performance-led, practice-as-research method to discover and identify specific factors that create this relationship. The ‘Burlesque script’ and the ‘dialogic gaze’ are two factors that contribute to the knowledge generated by this thesis, and together they form a new deeper understanding of the performer–audience relationship in Burlesque. The Burlesque script, as a sequence of performer-initiated, visual cues for the audience to follow and respond to, is a launch pad for the curation and development of the dialogic gaze. The dialogic gaze is the exchange of energy, power, and agency that iii oscillates between the performer and audience based on mutual vulnerability and trust. Similar phenomena may be experienced in other forms of performance, and this understanding may benefit those forms and be of interest to those studying theatre, performance art, and the theoretical analysis of live entertainment. It may also be relevant to those from other disciplines (such as psychology and gender studies) researching consent, agency, and the gaze. For the Burlesque community, this thesis acknowledges and investigates the nuances of the art form beyond the ‘them and us’, ‘audience and performer’ structure of some traditional theatre, offering further distinctions in the mechanics of making and creating Burlesque performance as co-learning.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Bush, Sophie [0000-0002-4382-7089]
Thesis advisor - Abulhawa, Dani [0000-0001-7420-694X]
Thesis advisor - O'Brien, Shelley
Thesis advisor - Pateman, Matthew
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Sophie Bush / Supervisors: Dr. Dani Abulhawa, Dr. Shelley O'Brien and Dr. Matthew Pateman. "No PQ harvesting"
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2022 14:17
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 15:17

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