Dissecting Empire with Julia Taudevin

AJ Taudevin

We are delighted to announce that Julia Taudevin will be the IASH-Traverse Creative Fellow for 2020. Julia is an award-winning actor, playwright, screenwriter, director and co-artistic director of the Glasgow-based theatre company, Disaster Plan.

We caught up with Julia ahead of her fellowship here and asked about what drew her to IASH and the Traverse Theatre. We also wanted to find out a little bit about the play she will be working on during her fellowship. Here are her thoughts:

I am stoked to be this year’s IASH-Traverse Creative Fellow. As a lass who was always told she was stupid, and has only got a diploma in acting beyond what my high school gave me, I’ve always had a romantic notion of how lovely it would be to be in academia without ever being able to access it. And now I can! And in a way that enables me to also write a funny play! I’m absolutely delighted!

My current show 'Move~Gluasad' premieres on the Isle of Lewis later this month and then at Celtic Connections on the 2nd of February. It is a subtly political multi-lingual play with songs that asks if Western society is capable of empathising with migrant grief. During my time at IASH, I am going to write 'A(u)nti(e) Empire', a gory political comedy about the British Empire which looks at Western society through quite a different lens.

I recently completed a residency, run by the brilliant Summerhall, exploring prosthetics and gore in a live theatre context. In order to find a vessel to play with these effects, I considered who I might most like to disembowel - and thus the character of Auntie Empire was born. I want to use comedy to brutally dissect the British Empire, its legacy and the complicity of people like me in it. What that complicity is forms one of the main research questions I’m bringing to the Institute. Does complicity come with apathy? Ignorance? Myth-making? Comfort and discomfort? Because Empire is in all of us, whether we like it or not. And as we reach a decade-anniversary of living under Tory rule, I am keen to take a long, hard look at us Brits, particularly us Scottish Brits, and dream up the most gory and enjoyable ways of severing the rot.