“En-Gendering Monodrama” is my transdisciplinary project that aims to challenge current cultural perceptions of twentieth-century musical monodrama. The project has recently received funding from the Irish Research Council and is hosted at Maynooth University. Through critical investigation and reinterpretation of carefully selected repertoire, this project will identify and apply a range of potential experimental approaches to the production and performance of modernist and postmodern musical monodramas. Significantly, this genre was conceived almost exclusively for a solo female performer, whose creative practice motivated the conception of the work, whose interaction with the composer affected the compositional process, and whose realisation of the finished work was critical to its impact.
“En-Gendering Monodrama” will examine and reconsider the female performer”s decisive and creative role, asking what challenges it might present to contemporary performance practice.
How, in the wake of the transformative impact of late-twentieth-century ideas about gender, sexuality and the body, should we engage with this repertoire?
The performance tradition of this repertoire has surprisingly relegated the performer to the peripheral position of a quasi-passive medium. By making this repertoire accessible through smaller-scale productions and arrangements, my project re-empowers the performer, and in this case, the informed female singer, advocating the inherently performative nature of this repertoire.
Led by a female artist-researcher and based on experimental practice informed by historical research, “En-Gendering Monodrama” will enrich our understanding of authorship, identity and subjectivity in the genre while demonstrating in practical terms the potential for a contemporary response to the performance of these works. The project integrates the gender-orientated experience of the artist-researcher as a structural element in the discourse on musical monodrama, thus aiming to re-define and re-locate the role of the solo female performer, and to test new performative devices and dramatic possibilities in the repertoire.
Further, by establishing functional connections with current practice, “En-Gendering Monodrama” seeks to enrich and challenge contemporary conceptions of the solo female performer more widely.