Stripping Bare – 2010 ADSA Conference

The 2010 ADSA Conference, themed ‘Stripping Bare’, is being held at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra from 29 June to 2 July.  This is the annual conference of the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies.  Attending, sharing ideas, and feeling like part of a greater academic community always gives a big lift to the private research time that takes place before and after.

The abstract for the paper I’ll be presenting is below.  As always, I’d be interested to hear any thoughts or feedback on this work, so don’t hold back!


Pushing Past Pain: uncovering embodied strategy in physically demanding sports performance

Kath Bicknell


While some may cringe at the idea of sports that inflict a certain level of pain, others are attracted to the challenge of ‘pushing through it’ in order to achieve success.  This paper takes a phenomenological approach to investigating pain identification and management tactics used in the sport of cross-country mountain bike racing which is both a high-intensity and endurance sport – and one that carries with it a high potential for crashing, overuse injuries and adverse reactions to environmental surrounds.


Expanding upon theoretical concepts by Drew Leder and Tim Noakes, which describe ways embodied capacities for human performance can be trained and developed, I will draw on my own experience as a regular participant in mountain bike events, alongside reflective accounts written by other riders, to discuss three primary ways of categorising pain in process and the differing management methods these necessitate pre, post and during live sporting events.  By stripping bare the experience of pain in a (somewhat) controlled context, this work will extend ideas of skill development and site specific performance to examine focused, reflective experiences that are possible in extreme states of embodied practice.