Surviving Objects

19th -22nd June 2013

Surviving Objects weaves together live performance, stunning macro-lens film footage and recorded sound. The play explores how personal possessions - some cherished, some discarded - can trigger a process of recollection, the urge to forget and the desire to narrate. The play also provides an intriguing, positive insight into the experiences of a child refugee.

  • Length of performance: approximately 90 minutes.
  • Special associated events: Q & A sessions with Dr. Murjas on the Friday and Saturday, following the 3pm performances.
  • Venue: Bulmershe Theatre, Minghella Building


Surviving Objects is a theatre performance created and directed by Teresa Murjas. It was first staged in December 2012. The completed version will be re-staged in June 2013, in the Bulmershe Theatre, Minghella Building, University of Reading.

Surviving Objects is a devised, multi-media practice-as-research performance based on extensive interviews conducted with my elderly mother. Our conversations concerned her experience as a child refugee, following her violent deportation by the Soviet Army from Eastern Poland to Siberia (1941). She described her subsequent journey, via Persia, to a British-run refugee camp in Bwana M'Kubwa, Northern Rhodesia. There she remained for 6 years before arriving in the UK. In order to aid my mother's recollection, our recorded conversations focused on the objects remaining from that period in her life - my 'inheritance'. The material presence of this handful of objects is central to the ninety-minute performance.

Surviving Objects is my attempt to locate a theatrical form that will engage with my mother's marginalised voice. The end-on performance explores themes of intimacy and failing memory, and my constantly shifting relationship with my mother. It searches for cross-medial pathways that will enable her experience, and my experience of her, to play-out. Surviving Objects involves:

  • live performance from two silent female actors handling my mother's objects and presenting them to the audience.
  • two synchronously-playing, large-scale film projections exploring the objects by means of a highly-magnifying (macro) lens.
  • my mother's recorded voice, taken from our interviews, which were conducted in Polish, with my own verbal contribution excised.
  • my translation of her stories, appearing as written text overlaying the projected imagery.

Find out more about Surviving Objects

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See also

  • School of Arts and Communication Design
  • Faculty Research Pages
  • Research & Consultancy at the University 


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