Aletia Upstairs is a doctor of archival performance, cabaretist, singer-songwriter, vintage songstress, performance activist and lecturer.
She is an interdisciplinary artist-researcher with a practice situated in the performing archives, autobiographical, verbatim, postdramatic, and participatory-immersive performance frameworks, who investigates the subjective archives of the audience-participants through intercultural, interlingual, sculptural performances imbued with music, poetry, and puppetry.
For her PhD, she performed the documents of ephemeral events in the Richard Demarco Archive. The methodologies she created, which include using verbatim (from primary research interviews) as song lyrics, can be applied universally in archival performance making. As a result of her PhD, her interpretation of ‘the archive’ evolved to signify personal archives and seeing our memories as well as our bodies as our archives. In this way, her research ventured into the areas of mental health awareness and applied theatre. She is currently working on a project about mental health awareness and she runs workshops in corporate intimacy. Read her PhD on the Portfolio page.
Current projects: Discharged (2023), Simpatico (collaboration with Godfrey Johnson, in progress for January 2024, to be performed in Cape Town), Indomitable (collaboration with Sarah Vaughan, in progress for February 2024, to be performed in London)
She teaches practice-as-research methodologies, interdisciplinarity and alternative dramaturgies, Post-Dramatic Performance (Tadeusz Kantor and related practitioners), and Dramaturgies of the Real: Autobiographical Performance and Verbatim (Bertolt Brecht and related practitioners) at three UK universities.
She was a nominee of the QX Cabaret Awards in 2019 and a finalist for Jazz Idol with the London Gay Big Band in 2017. Her skills have been acknowledged in 5-star reviews for ‘A Queer Love of Dix’ at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 and for ‘The Artist as Explorer’ at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017. She was awarded the Kantor Demarco award for ‘Emballage’ in 2016. In 2015 she won a PhD scholarship to Leeds Beckett University and in 2009 she won a scholarship to The International Cabaret Conference at Yale.
In addition to five solo cabaret shows, and numerous collaborations, she has composed and produced four solo albums and her original music is available on all online platforms. In 2020 and 2021 she was involved in online performance collaborations and started her site-responsive activist performance practice.