As an award-winning performer and director, I will undertake a practice-led, performative auto-ethnographic research through the development of a new theatre work. My research will investigate the application of shamanic practices to the creative process and critically reflect upon connecting their holistic and healing effects. Investigating the processes of great theatre practitioners including Artaud, Grotowski, Brook, Schechner, Malina, Chaikin I will endeavour to explore how incorporating shamanic concepts may bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary creative methods. Traditional theatre training provides solid technique and a disciplined work ethic, but the cost on psychological wellbeing of the creative is immense.
Studies examining psychological wellbeing in actor training have demonstrated that professional theatre creatives face a range of issues, including anxiety, depression, vicarious trauma, perfectionism, alcohol abuse, complex relationships, low help-seeking and identity issues (Robb et al., 2016). But little has been done to address ways to alleviate such factors for theatre practitioners. I want to investigate this gap, and find a more healing approach to the creative process. For creatives, frameworks present the question of merit of a stance which may inadvertently or knowingly filter responses through a position of assumed authority (Sullivan 1996).
The pragmatic paradigm refers to a worldview that focuses on "what works" rather than what might be considered absolutely and objectively "true" or "real" (Weaver 2018). My research will be used to develop my award-winning short screenplay Black Canvas, to a seventy-five-minute multi-media stage performance in the style of David Byrne's American Utopia and Wassily Kandinsky's Yellow Sound.
Applying the visionary, alternative techniques of shamanic practice such as journeying, symbolism, animus, mind monologues, elements, upper and lower worlds to traditional theatre practice, I will address the interconnectivity of tradition and shamanism, and establish areas where creative exercises can be explored and developed to maximise the healing aspects of the creative process and performance practice. I will keep journals, write scripts and create visual decks, as well as compile ideas for music and stage-design ideas. I will also conduct surveys, practice-led masterclasses, and interview practitioners.
Robb, Alison, et al., 2016, "Exploring psychological Wellbeing in Acting Training: an Australian Interview Study"
Sullivan, Graeme, 1996, "Critical Interpretive Inquiry: A Qualitative Study of Five Contemporary Artists' Ways of Seeing Study," Studies in Art Education, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Summer 1996), pp. 210-25.
Weaver, Kathryn, 2018, "Pragmatic Paradigm," The SAGE Encyclopaedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation, Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications, 1287-88.
For more information, please contact the Graduate Research School.