‘our manifest galaxy’
Toronto Public Library, Toronto Canada (2019)

  • Is space ours to explore and conquer at any cost?
  • Who gets to decide on who colonises space?
  • Is the earth ours to destroy, or does it form an integral part of us?
  • How do our journeys into space inform the way we see ourselves, and our home, earth?

Renee Hložek observational astrophysicist, in collaboration with the artist Pamela Neil and the AnishinaabeKwe social innovator Melanie Goodchild, performed ‘our manifest galaxy’, an oral performance designed to bring the audience squarely into the conversation about space exploration and colonisation.

Sponsored by the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Faculty of Arts and Science Deans Fund at the University of Toronto, with support from the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) and the Toronto Public Library.

happy families – the conversations we’re not having about adoption’
Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, England (2017)

happy families… ’, a live performance held at the Arnolfini Gallery Arts Centre in Bristol, explored the issues around forced adoption and the implications for both the children and families involved.

The performer – family law barrister Sarah Phillimore commented:“I am really pleased to say we have a full house and I am even more pleased to note the majority are NOT my friends or family so presumably they are drawn to the subject matter itself.”

“Weaving in academic arguments and physical theatre, the installation was fresh, engaging and provocative… I stood captivated by the argument, the use of props and [the performer’s] consideration of space.”  Rife Magazine

“The performance was brilliantly crafted ….and made me reflect on familiar themes in ways I hadn’t before. It was really powerful and provoked some genuine conversation afterwards. I would really recommend going if you can.”  Lucy Reed, Pink Tape – A Blog from the Family Bar.

“[Family law barrister] Sarah (Phillimore) pushed the limits of what we think we know and in so doing she gave us all the chance to better understand the world of adoption.” Sara Socks

dear Jane… you have been a kind friend’
London, England (2012)

This video performance was created for the British charity Detention Action. The charity wanted a piece of work that could help persuade their supporters to campaign for a change in the British government’s policy on indefinite detention. Detention Action also wanted to highlight its core message that ‘indefinite detention is immoral’.

In creating the performance, Pamela worked closely with William Kapato – an ex-detainee, using his own experience seeking asylum in the UK after fleeing Sierra Leone.

The script took the form of a moving letter to William’s support worker and explored the different aspects of constraint Kapato had experienced, first in Sierra Leone during the period of former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s involvement in the country, and subsequently in the UK as a victim of indefinite detention. Both of these experiences had left William severely traumatized and due to William’s mental health, the performance was pre-recorded as a video.

‘in on the act 2’
Greenroom, Manchester, England (2007)

James Thompson, Professor of Applied and Social Theatre at The University of Manchester wanted to create two pieces of work exploring questions of responsibility, memory and healing central to the complexity of working in war zones.

Following an earlier work in 2005 entitled ‘in on the act’, ‘in on the act 2’ explored issues raised by a massacre in Sri Lanka in which a group of young, former child soldiers were murdered by local villagers three months after taking part in a theatre project led by Professor Thompson.

‘in on the act 2’ dealt with questions of responsibility, memory and healing, central to the dilemma and complexity of working in war zones.

‘It was a fascinating evening. It certainly captured remarkably effectively the dilemma, the puzzlement, the search for the ‘truth’ of what happened in the camp, why and by whom, and ultimately the irresolvability of the events that took place. When the key photo was shown, that was an excellent moment, all the more so because the visual and the verbal were so vitally interdependent; completely absorbing; it left you wanting to know more.’  Professor Tony Jackson. The University of Manchester.

Sponsored by The University of Manchester.

one of our ain
Oran Mor, Glasgow, Scotland (2006)

In this performance Pamela worked with renowned children’s rights campaigner Sandra Brown, the daughter of a convicted paedophile. The one-woman show format gave her a platform from which she could deliver her highly personal and disturbing tale about her childhood in an intimate and powerful way.

Sponsored by Sandra Brown OBE.

‘10 minute tales
Bolton, England (2006)

Bolton at Home – a Bolton housing management charity, commissioned Pamela to create a series of performances titled ’10 minute tales’ exploring issues affecting the estate community and encouraging debate amongst the residents.

Pamela worked closely with estate resident Malcolm Orr, who, as a young man, had spent five years as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II. He had subsequently been an estate resident for sixty years and was keen to draw parallels between the two important periods in his life, particularly in terms of living with others.

Through ‘storying’ Malcolm’s experience as a young prisoner of war, this simple tale of survival became a powerful message about living together which Malcolm was proud to tell.

Sponsored by Percent for Art, Bolton At Home, 

‘in on the act 1
The University of Manchester and London Metropolitan University, England (2005)

The first of Pamela’s two projects with James Thompson, Professor of Applied and Social Theatre at the University of Manchester, was a performance by Professor Thompson exploring the role of the international researcher in communicating information about the Rwandan genocide to non-Rwandan audiences. Pamela worked with Professor Thompson to create a piece of work he has performed widely at various venue in the UK including the London Metropolitan University.

‘I thought it was absolutely brilliant, and a very exciting and challenging format for academic presentation of research. It is potentially a form that can bridge the gap between University and the world. It makes all kinds of exciting things possible; ways of making as well as communicating knowledge’. Jenny Hughes, The University of Manchester.

Sponsored by The University of Manchester.

“communicating complex ideas orally– Pamela Neil