DadMan: Bathtime Warrior
What is the contemporary father’s role in early parenting? How attainable are feminist ideals of parenting equity and what the key barriers to them? To what degree can performance art capture/explore tensions in work-life balance?
What did the project involve?
This project explored ways in which sociology, gender studies, and theatre can work together to produce a successful piece of entertaining theatre on the topic of contemporary parenthood. In the context on ongoing popular and political debates about the nature and value of mothering and fathering – which include artistic endeavours based around satire and humour – the project developed “DadMan: BathTime Warrior”; a devised theatre show with original score and live music, looking at modern fatherhood, gender roles, and shared parenting which integrates personal experiences (from the writers and actors) along with social scientific research. For an arts perspective investigated the concept of ‘baby-proofed’ dramaturgy and explored the idea of ‘extra-live’ theatre.
The project focused on the following research questions:
- What is the contemporary father’s role in early parenting?
- How attainable are feminist ideals of parenting equity and what the key barriers to them?
- To what degree can performance art capture/explore tensions in work-life balance?
- How can theatre be made more accessible for the parents of young children?
Through this project the team hoped to develop a new piece of baby-friendly devised theatre on the topic of contemporary fatherhood, to devise an intergenerational stage combat workshop for parents and children as a research and participation activity, to extend theatre-going to new (and lapsed) audiences, and to collect responses/reflections of parents to the show to be used as qualitative data for further analysis.
Who are the team and what do they bring?
- Esther Dermott (Policy Studies, University of Bristol) is a sociologist focused on parenting, especially fatherhood, intimacy, and personal relationships. She posseses valuable insights on current academic work and policy interventions around fathers and work-life balance.
- Tina Hoffman (NotNow Collective) is a theatre maker and co-founder of NotNow Collective, an organisation striving to make our caring roles visible and explore ways of integrating parenthood into professional practice and quality theatre experience. The company creates immersive, provoking and highly visual theatre by challenging what we know of parenthood, family and home. The work created is geared at adult audiences, but babies are welcomed to the working process, and performances.
What were the results?
DadMan: BathTime Warrior was devised, produced and performed at the Tobacco Factory. It was taken on tour with the NotNow collective in 2019 and performed in Bristol, Bath, East Staffordshire Brewhouse Arts Centre, Midlands Art Centre, Nottingham Playhouse, and more.
Backstage Bristol described the final performance as:
“DadMan: the Bathtime Warrior, is a baby friendly show for parents which fuses quiz, live music, comedy and original songs into a performance for adults.
‘DadMan is a warrior in the face of fatherhood. He is responsible for smooth delivery of an ideal birth plan. He courageously navigates the precipices of the school run. He competes to be awarded the title of Breadwinner, armed with his trusty Lego set.’
Notnow Collective asked various artist and fathers to respond to their own experience of parenthood, teaming up with two dad performers to bring the final result to the stage.”
Esther Dermott wrote a blog post on her experience of devising theatre from a sociological perspective entitled ‘Sociology Meets Theatre’