New Theatre Quarterly

Research Article

Trajectories of the ‘Dead Heart’: Performing the Poetics of (Australian) Space

Rachel Fensham


In this paper Rachel Fensham returns to the writings of Gaston Bachelard in order to examine the poetics of space from a non-European perspective. Spatial metaphors, such as the ‘dead heart’ that might evoke phenomenological and psychic dimensions of space in Australia, also register in historical and geographical imaginaries. However, postcolonial theories of space disturb visual metaphors and cartographic concepts in the mises en scène of theatrical performance. Here, Fensham analyzes two recent performances that radically reimagine the poetics of (Australian) space through the movement trajectories of walking and falling. Rachel Fensham is a Professor of Dance and Theatre Studies at the University of Surrey. Her book with Denise Varney, The Dolls' Revolution: Australian Theatre and Cultural Imagination (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2005), examines the influence of women playwrights on mainstream Australian theatre, and she is currently undertaking research on transnationalism and choreographic practice.