Peta Murray is a writer, dramaturge, teacher and HDR Candidate. Her practice-led research project, Essayesque Dismemoir: w/rites of elder-flowering, employs variations of the “performance essay” to devise queered and performative non-fiction on themes of the creative life course and the embodied experience of ageing. Her short fiction has been published in Sleepers Almanac and New Australian Stories, and her best known plays are Wallflowering and Salt.  Peta’s critical writing includes a chapter in Creative Manoeuvres: Writing, Making, Being (2014), edited by Shane Strange, Paul Hetherington and Jen Webb.

Mattie Sempert is a practicing acupuncturist and is well into a doctorate in Creative Writing. For her PhD project she is making a body of lyric essays. Her practice-led research blends the ancient needling arts with the literary arts, where she aims to re-present notions of body from the perspective of process philosophy. Mattie is a member of RMIT’s non/fictionLab and is also involved with the Montreal-based SenseLab.

Dr Stayci Taylor’s PhD explored gender, comedy and script development through creative practice, incorporating her industry background as a screenwriter, actor and playwright.  Published in such journals as Senses of Cinema, Journal of Creative Writing Research, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, New Writing and TEXT, Stayci is the Industry Fellow with the Media program at RMIT.  She has also co-editing special issues of Networking Knowledge and the Journal of Screenwriting.


Panel Play in Three Acts

Or, How (or when) does a Panel Become a Playpen?


Playwright and novelist Michael Frayn reminds us the world is irregular and confused [and] understanding this is where any inquiry into the nature of things has to begin’ (2006: 37). A conference panel, such as the one that we (the authors) arranged ourselves into in late 2015, would appear to resist such irregularity and confusion. Presenters speak (as we did) in a predetermined order, observing a time limit and, where possible, aiming for coherence in theme, content or field. As creative practice researchers, knee-deep in our doctoral projects, each of us spoke of our recent experiences in different immersive writing environments – residencies, labs and boot camps – proposing there might be such a thing as ‘living in the research project’. Our session was lively and well received. Within our different approaches was room for playfulness and spontaneity. These spilled out into the presentation as a whole: with no prior consultation, we were surprised and delighted by unexpected connections. The residency, lab and, yes, even ‘thesis boot camp’ had playful elements in and of themselves, and perhaps these were the uniting factor. We were encouraged to publish together, expand on the ideas discussed. But, as Francesca Rendle-Short has written, We are too often obsessed with content, the “what” [rather than the “how”]’ (2014: 92). We wondered if there was something further to mine. Had the panel itself become its own playroom? Three HDR candidates decided to assume the role of ‘panel beaters’, slip on some overalls, and find out.