The Rhythms of Home

Margaret Adkins

Performance as Research to explore Domestic Space through analysis of Historical and Contemporaneous Habitation of the same Houses in a Victorian Estate.

Abstract

Underpinned with spatial theory, this qualitative research probes domestic space and considers connections between historical and contemporary worlds of domesticity. An immersive audio performance, We’re Just Ghosts in This House is placed at the heart of the research to examine interiority and the gendered space of home.

 

The performance is specifically sited in the road where I live and explores fourteen historical households recorded in the 1901/11 censuses and other archives, by ventriloquizing the most senior woman in each household. Autobiographical material is planted alongside archival research. No longer located in contemporary space, interiors become heterotopia where space is timeless and the past becomes grafted on to the present and vice versa. Current residents of these houses are invited to wander alone in small groups through the performance space and to feedback.

There is evidence of hegemonic control of domestic space where choices between work and home commitments have been necessitated. For working mothers (or any chief carer) to achieve equality in the workplace today, this research suggests that beyond the focus on equal pay and opportunities, domestic space must be repositioned and given new currency in order for the home space of care and nurture to achieve equal status with work time and productivity. 

 

Participants immersed in the theatre of We're Just Ghosts in This House will experience domestic space, which may or may not be familiar with their own interior. Where participants find resonance in the performance, and when they make connections and use imagination, the framing of the piece allows a process of change more intrinsically transformative than either close reading a text, or interpreting a performance on stage from the auditorium.