From The Body: Writing Our Selves for Performance

Facilitator: lee williams boudakian
Date: June 22nd – July 18th 2014
Number of Workshops: 5 (including day-long retreat)
Registration fee: $100.00 – $250.00


From The Body: Writing Our Selves for Performance is a 4-week,
cross-genre intensive in writing for performance exploring the site of the body. This workshop is for 12 writers/performers who seek to speak into and from the spaces that language doesn’t easily reach. Beginning with our bodies as inspiration – from bones to skin  we will work from the inside out. We will explore the political landscapes of our inner worlds and experience how these intersect with our outer worlds. We will look literally and metaphorically into scars, cuts, bruises, internal bleeding, DNA, hair, skin, texture and colour, rolls and curves, twitches and glitches, needs and urges. We will examine complicity, and honour the collective and individual learning curves we are on. We will seek out narratives that approach radical love, while revealing resistance, and unveiling truths.

We will work together as part of a supportive community, taking creative risks to:

  • Unpack why it is important to write our stories

  • Explore how the personal is (still and always) political and physical

  • Make the connections between our various/varying identities and narratives of the larger socio-political struggles we intersect with

  • Demystify performance and performing

  • Imagine into fact, while laying claim to truth

  • Use writing and performance as a practice towards survival and collective healing/liberation

  • Explore the (physical) aesthetics of the political

  • Create/define boundaries to investigate this work in safer ways

The methodology guiding our work will:

  • Use an integration of body-based movement and breathing exercises as precursors and prompts for writing

  • Use excerpts of writing as precursors and prompts for performace

  • Explore different genres of the “performative” including multiple genres of writing (i.e. poetry, spoken word, fiction, playwriting, and creative nonfiction), performance art, dance, performance for film and video art

  • Interrogate “performance” as a craft and practice

  • Supporting each other as we discover voice(s) that tell our stories


Intensive Structure:

  • Workshops 3-hours in length will run once a week for the 4 weeks of the Intensive, starting the week of June 22nd

  • Each workshop will include a physical and writing warm-up, further exercises to investigate body and story, a discussion about craft prompted by examples, and workshopping/rehearsing of original work.

  • Intensive participants will also meet once weekly with a smaller working group of 2 to 3 individuals

  • Each participant will have 1 one-on-one

  • There is the possibility that Intensive participants will also attend a weekend writing retreat on the weekend of July 5th.

  • Participants will be invited to share new work generated through the Intensive at the 2014 Writing Institute Community Reading on July 18th 2014


Writers/Artists whose work we may explore:
Audre Lorde, Ana Mandieta, Andrea Smith, Diane Roberts, d’bi young, Gloria Anzaldua, Guillermo Gomez Pena, Jeanette Winterson, Leanne Simpson, Lisa Jackson, Lisa Steele, Nayyirah Waheed, Para Active, Pina Bausch, Staceyann Chin, Warsan Shire, and others.


Participants will leave the Intensive with:

  • Prompts and exercises to use at home and in community

  • Continue developing theories and practices integrating body, writing and storytelling

  • At least one piece of writing that has gone through a collective workshop process

  • Experience of rehearsing and publicly performing their work

  • A community of creative minds to work with in the future


Guiding Philosophy:
Our stories live in our bodies, as much as they live in any external landscape.The stories of the people we come from, the stories of the lands we now live on, our stories of struggle and survival — all of these live in and impact our bodies. As survivors of trauma, as those of us who inhabit queer identities, racial, ethnic and otherwise “marginalized” realities on unceded Coast Salish lands – our bodies and experiences are political and politicized. These experiences appear as crevices and scars, they live in twitches and challenges with mobility, they live in emotions and physical pain.

So, from the body we will extend ourselves and look at various markers of identity, be it race, gender, sexuality, ability, class, age and the ways that these markers are both useful, but also always (and necessarily) incomplete. We will explore internal nuance and complexity  against external perceptions, and we will render images of ourselves that do not reduce us to shorthand scripts or labels. We will instead play with labels, using ones that we can lay claim to and questioning the importance of adopting some while releasing others.