Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse share an interdisciplinary performance practice together under the name Action Hero. Since 2005, we have created performances spanning theatre, live art, installation, multi media and site-specific practice, which have toured to over 25 countries across 5 continents.
Our ongoing interests lie in the iconography of popular culture and its use; both as a weapon and as a shared cultural memory. Action Hero’s work is always experimenting with form, and as a result our work expands across multiple creative practices. Although we work primarily with live performance, we regularly work with processes and mediums with which we are unfamiliar, adopting a radical DIY approach which often sees us navigating solo through new technical and creative territories.
Our long form collaborative partnership has taken us to some of the world’s most prestigious performance contexts, including PS122 in New York, Theatre De La Ville in Paris, Shanghai Grand Theatre and the 21st Century Museum in Japan. We have taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level as visiting lecturers at several UK universities, and have led master classes world-wide.
In 2013 we won an Austin (Texas) Critic’s Table Award for "Watch Me Fall", and in 2016 Action Hero was shortlisted for the Anti Festival International Prize for Live Art for their contribution to the field. We have two books published by Oberon: "Action Plans", a blueprint for alternative processes of documenting contemporary performance featuring 6 of our works, with an introduction by Professor Carl Lavery and "Wrecking Ball", a conceptual artwork disguised as a traditional play script.
Recent works include "Extraordinary Rendition", a piece for one person at a time inside a purpose built cabin using audio, video and live performance; "From Ashes", a durational installation using over 1000 handmade, to-scale miniature paper houses covered in ash; and "Wrecking Ball" a sort-of play about the destructive power of images.