An investigation into the production of meaning in autobiographical performance

I am pleased and honoured to present a summary of my current doctoral research on the co-creation of meaning in autobiographical performance in dramatherapy at the forthcoming ECArTE (European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education) international conference in Kraków between the 13th and 16th September 2017.

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This is a summary of my presentation:

My paper will present the findings of a doctoral research in dramatherapy which is currently being completed at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge (UK). This research aims at investigating the way in which the production of meaning in autobiographical performance in dramatherapy can be described as emerging from a relational and embodied encounter between performer and spectator (or witness) within the shared space of performance. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach and brings together most recent theoretical developments and empirical research in the fields of performance studies, dramatherapy, psychotherapy, intersubjective theory, phenomenology and literary studies to fully apprehend and provide an in-depth analysis of how meaning is created in the autobiographical performance space.

This study takes as its object of investigation the ‘fundamental theatrical relationship of performer and spectator’ (Meyerhold, 1969) and the way in which meaning in performance emerges from that relationship. The study considers how the different levels of interactions within the intersubjective space of autobiographical performance in dramatherapy inform, influence and contribute to the way meaning is created and constructed for the individuals involved in the process. In the light of the theme of the conference, this paper will particularly consider the way in which the performance space can be described as a transitional space that offers embodied opportunities for mutual transformation and renewed ways of understanding oneself in relation to and in dialogue with others.

The research adopts a multi-method methodological framework that combines arts-based inquiry (performance as research) and relational phenomenological research. The paper will provide illustrations of a particular and original visual method of cross-performance thematic analysis (split-screens) that was developed for the research. This method was designed to help investigate the dialogical interactions between different performed autobiographies and how these interactions contribute to the creation of meaning in autobiographical performance in dramatherapy.

Author: J. F. Jacques

dramatherapist, clinical supervisor, community theatre director, performance researcher