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Performing the castaway
journal contributionposted on 25.06.2018, 00:00 by Susan DavisSusan Davis
I have been interested in the idea of ‘castaways’ and the female castaway—women who have been pushed beyond the normal bounds of experience—and through their experiences exploring questions of identity, representation and historical reckonings. A previous script explored the Eliza Fraser story, with ‘Figments of Eliza’ being published in a TEXT Journal special issue on ‘Scriptwriting as Research’ (Davis 2013). This new work focusses on historical narratives of another female castaway and shipwreck victim, in this case those of Barbara Crawford who was shipwrecked near Thursday Island in 1844. Drawing upon historical texts (MacGillivray 1852; McCalman 2013; Moore 1978) and existing writing on the subject (Idriess 1947; Warren 2009), the script experiments with embodiment of the researcher/writer’s creative process in bringing the story to life. This work is situated within a spectrum of practice that can be categorised as research-based drama or theatre (Beck et al. 2011). It contributes to a growing body of creative works and scholarship within journals such as TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses (Baker 2013; Baker et al. 2015) and New Writing (Kerrigan and Batty 2016), whereby the writers have interrogated the ways in which scriptwriting is a critical and creative writing practice. This script further explores scriptwriting as research, with a focus on methodological concerns and writing as research and creative practice, this being interrogated as part of the work created. In creating this work the identities of the female castaway are called into being and made manifest through the creative and performative process. Research-informed practice has been used to explore the interactive performance of meaning making that is negotiated and re-negotiated through writing, reading and ‘performing the castaway’.