About me and my work
I am a socially-engaged performance practitioner, scholar and educator from a Canadian-Venezuelan-American family background. Over the past 15 years I have developed my arts/research practice in the US, Russia, England, Venezuela, Chile and Colombia. My life experience has been the discovery of performance as a transnational pathway for coming into contact with different ways of seeing, knowing and being. Currently, I am a PhD student in Performance Studies at the University of California, Davis (more information here) and am living in Bogotá, Colombia.
I received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Barnard College, Columbia University in New York City and studied abroad at the Samuel Beckett Centre in Dublin and the Moscow Art Theatre. As a postgraduate, I studied Russian stage movement at the Vakhtangov Theatre Academy in Moscow and then completed a Masters of Arts in Devised Theatre at Dartington College of Arts, Falmouth University, in England. I have worked with a number of theatre companies and cultural centers, facilitated educational and community theatre programs, devised original performances, and taught courses in schools and universities (more about workshops I facilitate here).
My work explores participatory techniques for exchanging perspectives, making connections across barriers of difference, and creating spaces to feel the mutability of ‘belonging’ and ‘community’. I use performance to encourage freedom of expression and promote equity, amplifying voices not usually heard in society and inviting active listening from the body. I have facilitated socially-engaged projects that voiced the stories of refugees in rural England, developed the communication skills of youth in New York, enhanced the interactive pedagogical tools of English teachers in Caracas, and visibilized the perspectives of inmates in Chilean prisons (more about my different projects here).
My PhD research in Performance Studies at UC Davis, with designated emphases in Practice as Research and Human Rights, focuses on facilitating the expression of experiences of mobility and enclosure, specifically among incarcerated, migrant and displaced women and children in California, Chile and Colombia. My dissertation aims to contribute to applied theatre facilitation practices by re-thinking frames for valuing its ‘impact’ from a hemispheric and decolonial perspective, showing how facilitation can work against dehumanization by centralizing affect and embodiment. During 2019-20 I conducted fieldwork in Bogotá, Colombia, as a Fulbright US Student Researcher, studying socially-engaged performance initiatives engaging internally displaced people and Venezuelan migrants.
My recent publications address contemporary performance in Latin America, devised theatre methodology, the importance of affect to applied theatre in contexts of immigrant incarceration, and my embodied practice of witnessing deportation narratives. Research areas include applied theatre, human rights, performative ethnography, decolonial theory, affect theory, embodiment, migration studies, carceral studies and performance studies. Overall, my current performance practice/research explores the intersections and overlaps between ‘self’ and ‘other’, ‘local’ and ‘foreign’, performer and audience, participant and facilitator, tackling ethical and aesthetic questions about engaging community participants as protagonists in artistic/academic exchanges (for more information, see my recent presentations).
If you would like to share your thoughts with me, brainstorm ideas for a participatory theater project, organize an educational seminar, or pick my brain about resources in the field of socially-engaged performance, drop me a line!
For more about what I do, take a look at my CV: Sarah_Ashford_Hart_CV
A quick look at my current work:
Presentation of my PhD research for the “Practices of Liberation in the Era of Mass Deportation, Incarceration and Displacement” Work Group at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics Encuentro “The World Inside Out: Humor, Noise and Performance” held at UNAM, Mexico City in 2019 [English]:
Trailer for Moving-with Anastasis Corporal, my most recent practice-as-research project (June 2021), which engaged performing arts students from the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá (via Zoom) in actively witnessing the embodied testimonies of female victims of Colombia’s armed conflict [Spanish]:
Here is an interview about me and my work aired in 2018 on KDVS, a student-run community, alternative, freeform radio station based in Davis, CA [Spanish].
Some examples of my past work:
IntegrArte, a community participation program I coordinated for the Cultural Center of San Antonio, Chile in 2016 [Spanish].
Solstice Workshop I facilitated for the Latin American School of Popular Theatre of Entepola Foundation, Santiago, Chile, 2015 [Spanish]:
Radio Theater workshop and presentation I facilitated with incarcerated people in a center for social reintegration, as part of a community participation program I coordinated at the Regional Theatre of Maule in Talca, Chile, 2014 [Spanish]:
Theatre in Education workshop I facilitated for ESL teachers at the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language Conference in Valdivia, Chile 2013 [English]:
Trailer for my Dartington College of Arts MA show, I dis/mis/im/re-place myself, Totnes, England, 2010 [English]:
Here is an interview from 2011 about my participatory arts project “Where Are You from, Totnes?” aired on Soundart Radio, an independent, non-commercial, community radio station based in Totnes, Devon, UK [English].