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Lenora Champagne


Lenora Champagne


Notes on Autobiography and Performance






Through a consideration of Lenora's own processes and practice as a writer, performer and teacher, this paper will explore how autobiography finds its way into so many performances.

In 1990 when she edited the collection OUT FROM UNDER: TEXTS BY WOMEN PERFORMANCE ARTISTS, Lenora suggested that people responded to autobiographically based stories because of the powerful experience of being a witness. In the intervening years her perspective has changed. With the proliferation of sensational material on television talkshows and the current preference for the trauma-based memoir to the work of fiction, the public's capacity for sensation - and desire to judge, rather than simply witness- seems insatiable. Parallel to this shifting of public attention from larger issues of discourse to the voyeuristic discussion and viewing of celebrity traumas, is the judging of performance by focusing on the depth and authenticity of traumatic experience described in it.

Lenora argues that what is interesting in solo performances, whether autobiographically based or not, is clarity of voice, which often goes alongside an idiosyncratic perspective. Being taken on a journey through someone's peculiar/particular way of seeing everyday life, or of notating consciousness, can be much more momentous than being plied with the commonplaces of trauma.




Lenora Champagne   ( ) in 2006 received support from the NYSCA Individual Artists Program for TRACES/fades , as well as a residency at Yaddo Artists Colony to work on the project. She received a NYFA fellowship in performance art in 2003 and a NYFA fellowship in playwriting in 1998.  She and composer Daniel Levy received the 1999 Richard Rodgers Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for THE SINGING: A CYBERSPACE OPERA .  She was awarded three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (in directing, solo performance and an artist's residency in Canada), support from NYSCA, and has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony numerous times.  Her work was commissioned by Dance Theatre Workshop, Creative Time, Seven Stages (Atlanta) and In Parenthesis.  Her plays and performance works have been produced and presented in New York City, around the U.S., and in Europe and Australia. Her performance writing has been published by Smith and Kraus and in Performing Arts Journal, Women and Performance Journal, Performance Research , Chain, The Iowa Review and in Out From Under: Texts by Women Performance Artists , among other publications.  She is an alumna of New Dramatists, a resident HARP artist at HERE Arts Center, a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect, and a former Public Imaginations affiliated artist at Dance Theatre Workshop.  Champagne, who has a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from NYU, is Associate Professor of Drama Studies at Purchase College, SUNY.




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