Research Team

From left to right : Dr Emily Underwood-Lee, Dr Lena Šimić, Georgina Biggs, Dr Jennifer Verson

We are an academic team of Artist/Researchers committed to bringing a feminist, maternal ethic to the forefront of our practices and critical thinking. From our different perspectives we collaborate on this research project as a means to interrogate, facilitate and generate knowledges that reveal insights on the maternal as the lived condition of motherhood, making a unique contribution to the field of study.

Dr Emily Underwood-Lee – Principal Investigator
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Emily is a Research Fellow at the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling at University South Wales, Cardiff. She is also a performance practitioner, and mother to two children. Her work focuses on amplifying little heard personal stories from women whose voices may have been marginalised or overlooked and from the difference that hearing these stories can make in policy, practice and daily life for both teller and listener. She has a particular interest in stories of the maternal, gender, health/illness and heritage. She is concerned with the construction of gender and how the female body can be presented and represented in performance.  Her recent performances have focussed on how to present the post-operative and cancer-marked body, the stories and experiences of parenting, storytelling and health/illness, and performance and the maternal.

Dr Lena Šimić – Co-Investigator
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Lena is a Reader in Drama at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. She identifies as a mother/artist, transnational performance practitioner, art activist, pedagogue and scholar. Lena is currently researching contemporary performance and the maternal. Lena has presented her arts practice and research in a variety of academic journals (Performance Research, Contemporary Theatre Review, n.paradoxa, RiDE, Feminist Review, Studies in the Maternal) and in various arts venues and festivals. Lena has published six artist books including Maternal Matters and Other Sisters (2009), 4 Boys [for Beuys] (2016) and 10 The Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home (2019). She has recently published a play Three Conversations (2019) with her children Neal and Sid for Climate Change Theatre Action.

Georgina Biggs – Research Assistant

Georgina is reading for a PhD at Royal Holloway University. Her thesis The Voice of the Pelvis: A Menstrual Embodiment explores the menstruating body in post-Grotowskian (physical) performer training. Georgina trained with Song of the Goat Theatre in Eastern European ensemble theatre, and later engaged with the non-stylised, environmental, movement work of Helen Poynor. These two influences coalesce in the work of her company SheWolf which explores the interconnections between land, body and voice. SheWolf work employs a maternal ethic of interdependence, extending the ensemble configuration to include the more-than-human world as an alive and active member of the ensemble. Employing values of care-giving and care-taking, it is both an environmentally-driven and maternally-informed practice – being ‘in relation’ nurtured as central to human wellbeing.

Dr Jennifer Verson – Research Assistant

Jennifer’s research draws together her work as a performance practitioner, with contextual theology and peace studies. Her work builds new understanding of the potential of performance for social repair, particularly in the long aftermaths of genocide, slavery, and colonialism. She recently completed her PhD at Centre for Trust, Peace, and Social Relations at Coventry University where she received a United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Studentship. She is founding member and Artistic Director of Migrant Artists Mutual Aid (MaMa). A member of the Maternal and Performance Advisory Circle, she has joined the project as a Research Assistant to support the development of an edited book, preliminarily titled Mothering: Processes, Practices and Performance. Her contribution is ‘Maternal Performance as Peacebuilding’.