The Making an Appearance research project is a collaboration between the Centre for Contemporary British Theatre at Royal Holloway and the Equity Women’s Committee. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through the technē Doctoral Training Partnership, the project explores performers’ experiences of aesthetic labour.
Aesthetic labour describes the physical and emotional effort that goes into making or maintaining an appearance for work. It is ongoing work that extends beyond working hours and covers a range of activities, from putting on makeup to developing a six pack.
Existing research suggests that performers see aesthetic labour as an important part of their work. This project builds on this scholarship to explore how common the practice is, where the pressures to produce a particular appearance come from, and how issues of gender, race, age, and disability influence expectations and experiences of aesthetic labour.
To explore these issues, we will be surveying performers about their experiences of changing their bodies for work, asking them about the time, money, and emotional energy they invest in making their appearance. The online survey will be launched in April and will be followed by a series of focus groups and interviews. To find out more about the research as it progresses please follow @MakeAppearance on Twitter.
The research is being undertaken by Dr Sara Reimers, who completed her AHRC-funded PhD research in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance at Royal Holloway in 2017. If you have any questions about this research project please contact Sara at Sara.Reimers@rhul.ac.uk.