September 13, 2012
It’s the last few weeks leading up to the 7th Performing the World gathering taking place October 4-7 at the All Stars Project headquarters on 42 St in NYC. Amidst all the details and fine tuning of schedules and staffing, there’s the bigger picture—the historicity of the activity, if you will.
The several hundred people from dozens of countries that will come together to share, learn, query, play and develop performatorily are among the global cast of characters in an ongoing performance of a new way to be in and relate to the world. It’s an emerging new psychology, even though (or maybe because!) most Performing the World 2012 attendees aren’t psychologists. They’re theatre artists, youth workers, community activitists, teachers and teachers of teachers, consultants, entrepreneurs, physicians, researchers, humanitarians, scientists…challenging the institutional, cultural, psychological and educational status quo—and just as important, challenging the presuppositions about human nature that underlie the dominat practices of our societies. You can meet some of them by perusing the conference program.
At the same time, therapeutics and innovative clinical psychology and mental health work has been present at Performing the World since its beginnings. Here’s a few of the sessions exploring the porous frontier between therapy and performance to be presented in October.
A Social Therapy Group in Action
Be the audience for a performance of an ongoing social therapy group led by Christine LaCerva, director of the Social Therapy Group in New York City. Social therapy, founded by the late Fred Newman, challenges the major premise of psychology by identifying emotional development not in the individual’s head but in social relations between people. It’s a group therapy where the performance of the group is created by the group philosophically engaging how it needs to organize itself for the emotional growth and development of the group. What kind of conversation is needed to create the conditions where everyone can get help? The session will be live and unscripted. The audience will have the opportunity to dialogue with group members and the social therapist about the experience.
Embodiment of Dreams: Performing the Healing Process
Maria Stergiou, a drama therapist and physical theatre performer, works as group facilitator with vulnerable groups of children, young people and adults in school, community and prison settings in Greece and the United Kingdom. This drama therapy workshop explores the process of physical and emotional healing by using Lecoq based physical theatre techniques. This work grapples with such questions as: What is the relationship between physical illness and emotional healing through performance? What are the boundaries between theatre and healing? Is there a place for embodied dream work and imagination in the contemporary western world?
Transformational Social Therapy and Social Change in a Diverse World
French social psychologist Charles Rojzman shares Transformational Social Therapy (TST), a therapy oriented to community problem-solving, particularly where groups are divided and problems appear intractable. TST brings together people (often hundreds at a time) who have no desire to dialogue and do not think dialogue is possible—because they dehumanize and demonize one another. TST is therapeutic on a personal level but its main goal is to foster practices that support intergroup collaboration, understanding and interactions. The transformation of violence into conflict is a key aspect of Transformational Social Therapy. Rojzman has taken TST to most European countries, the United States, Russia, Rwanda, and Latin America.
The Butterfly Effect: Therapeutic Theatre and Communities
Divyam Sue Gibson is an educator, facilitator, director and actor involved in diverse projects in and around Margaret River, Western Australia. This workshop will look at Peter Brooks’ concept of the “Empty Space” for building “deep stories” and performing archetypal characters as a means asking new questions about emotionality that can begin to transform patterns of behavior and unquestioned belief systems that have been holding back our development. The techniques used in the workshop involve sound, color, meditation and emotive memory. The work explored here can be modified to work with students, people with disabilities, mental heath patients and workers and executives in corporations.
Mad Artists: Performing Artist Identity in a Psychiatric Hospital
Trudy Meehan is an Irish clinical psychologist currently working as a senior lecturer in Rhodes University Department of Psychology in Grahamstown, South Africa. She holds schizophrenia dear to her heart and has an interest in the performance into and out of psychiatric identity. She will be reporting on an art project at a psychiatric institution during which the “in-patients” were supported to perform an alternative identity of “artist.” Central to the performance of identity was the activity of others witnessing the identity performance. Exhibiting of the art created by the patients/artists became a performing, witnessing and re-telling ritual that was designed to be a space where the artist (alternative identity to patient) could be performed.
Therapy Play! Philosophizing without Philosophy to Create a Joyous Life
Therapy Play! is a therapeutic workshop maximizing our understanding of the significance of play and performance in emotional growth and development. This interactive therapeutic improv workshop will help people to develop their capacity to “philosophize without Philosophy”—to play and pretend and create with language while breaking out of conceptual frameworks that constrain us emotionally and developmentally. Join social therapist Rafael Mendez and actress/improv comedian Marian Rich in performing philosophizing to explore emotionally with others in the continuous activity of developing and creating our lives.
You can still register!