What to expect when you aren’t expected: Bringing queer birthing lives from story to stage

Goldberg, L., & Aston, M. (in press). What to expect when you aren’t expected: Bringing queer birthing lives from story to stage. In Jones, K. (ed). Creativity in doing research and reaching communities. London, UK: Taylor & Francis.

Lisa Goldberg and Megan Aston’s Chapter provides an account of their thrilling experience of transitioning from researchers to producers, a job they never imagined they would have, and their journey of discovery through live queer theatre as an innovative exemplar of performative social science (PSS). In collaboration with a brilliant queer professional theatre team, including a playwright, stage manager and four actors, Goldberg and Aston brought to life the rural narratives from eight queer Nova Scotian women from their original research study by transitioning the stories to the stage. With Goldberg’s background in the humanities and performing arts, and Aston’s background in theatre and talent as an artist, the two continue to wonder why such a collaborative endeavour in the area of PSS took so long to realize. Funded with a small budget and a lot of fervour, the two soon experienced the profound power of PSS to reach a broader and more diverse audience than traditional research with the aim of impacting social change. Given the stories being performed were those that spoke of harms, homophobia, trauma, as well as resilience, and empowerment, experienced by the women, PSS proved critical in bringing visibility, voice, and impact to their audience. This, according to Goldberg and Aston, is the beauty and power of PSS: potentiating a shared sense of social responsibility when an audience comes together through collective meaning making, emotionality, and shared understanding.

Lisa and Megan would like to dedicate their chapter to the memory of the visionary Kip Jones, who passed away during the final process of book completion. Despite our profound sadness, his brilliance, pioneering spirit, and endless humour will live on for years to come.