“Hormones are chemical prostheses, political drugs. The substance not only modifies the filter through which we decode and re-codify the world; it also radically modifies the body and, as a result, the mode under which we are decoded by others”
Hearty involves the development of three strands of work – an innovative live theatre production; a ceramic visual art installation and an intergeneration workshop – all responding to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a politicised issue. It will explore this in the context of different female transitions including cisgender menopause and transgender male to female transition, both of which increasingly have a complex relationship to the bio-technology of HRT.
The collaborative research and development phase funded by this scheme will draw on the overlapping interests of Emma Frankland, Artist and Independent Theatre Practitioner and Professor Myra Hunter, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Health Psychology at King's College London.
The Performance will examine the tension between the pain relief provided by these drugs and the gender politics of the pharmaceutical industry, in particular the contradictory nature of a family of drugs that can provide relief from suffering but that is controlled by the pharmaceutical industry and potentially has contributed to the erasure ad diabolisation of powerful older women - “crones”.
The accompanying workshop will facilitate intergenerational conversation between transgender women undergoing HRT as part of gender transition and cisgender women undergoing HRT as part of menopause. The workshops will both feed into the devising process of the performance during the R&D period, and provide an accessible opportunity to offer context and further debate alongside the touring production.
The project’s third stand will consist of the construction of several large ceramic vessels made in collaboration with Emma’s mother Sheran Dickenson (a menopausal ceramicist) inspired by conversations about her experience of menopause and transformation. These recorded conversations will be played from inside the ceramic vessels. This strand of the project has been commissioned by the transgender art exhibition’ Art Mob’ and will also feed directly into the performance and workshop strands.
This project will cover topics that are still taboo, create collaboration between two categories of women who are often depicted as oppositional and provides an opportunity for them to unite over their shared experiences in a creative and long lasting way.
This project is also supported by Battersea Arts Centre, Hall for Cornwall and Art Mob