Tricksters at the Conference
by Georgina Garbett
I was very excited to have my proposal for a “happening” accepted for the Alchemies of Research conference. I had attended the conference in 2017 and found it inspiring, exciting and supportive, so this gave me the confidence to push myself out of my comfort zone to present a performative piece about my research. I felt a dramatic piece of writing demonstrating how I would use trickster methodology to explore storytelling in professional learning would be an appropriate way of presenting my research ideas. I devised a short piece, which started with me singing a verse from the folk song Reynardine, segueing into a Trickster Tale, where Mr Elijah John Wolf, and Merelina the Raven discussed themselves as tricksters, explaining how tricksters can be employed as a way of unpicking and analysing research, creating different viewpoints and alternative ways of working. Tricksters encourage us to work in uncertainty, in liminality and to ‘embrace the chaos’ of our research.
I arrived on the morning and found the ADM group very warm and welcoming. I seemed to be the only person from a different faculty – I am based within Health Education and Life Sciences. I thoroughly enjoyed the explosive and comedic start of the first happening, as Dr Andy Ingamells invited us to throw tomatoes at him, dressed as a cricketer, using his violin to bat the tomatoes away. It was a great ice-breaker and got everyone talking, laughing and participating. The day continued with a diverse range of fascinating and imaginative presentations. After lunch, I felt the nerves starting to kick in as my presentation slot got closer. I am not a performer, so the prospect of singing in front of a group comprising professional musicians, singers and composers felt very daunting. I have only sung solo in public a couple of times, so knew I would be fighting the nerves, but the fact that everyone was so friendly and supportive really helped me to stand in front of them and give my performance. That didn’t stop me shaking like a leaf, I could hear the nerves in my voice as it echoed back at me, but as I sang, and told my trickster tale, I could see nods and smiles, which was really encouraging and helped me to get to the end with only the odd stumble. I received several questions afterwards and kind comments. It took me a while to stop shaking afterwards, but I was pleased that I had managed to overcome my fears and perform. Later in the day I had further conversations about my research, and received some very useful suggestions on literature relating to tricksters and storytelling in education.
The rest of the day flew by. I was pleased to be able to stay to see the Jazz Club performances in the conservatoire, which were thrilling and wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of both attending and presenting at the conference, and I would certainly encourage other PGR students to take the opportunity of taking part in this positive and supportive event.