Identification, Catharsis and Aesthetic Distance in the Performance of Lived Experience

I am honoured to present a paper on identification, catharsis and aesthetic distance in the performance of lived experience, at the forthcoming ECArTE (European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education) international conference in Alcalá de Henares between the 11th and 14th September 2019.

2019-conference-logo-for website

This is a summary of my paper:

The paper investigates the healing and transformative potential of the performance of lived experience in dramatherapy by particularly focusing on the relational dynamic between the performer and the spectator / witness. The paper aims at discussing how the encounter with an other as performer within the shared space of the performance of lived experience provides renewed ways of understanding oneself as witness. It argues that a recognition of and engagement with otherness and difference is an inescapable condition for self-actualisation. In the light of the theme of the conference, the paper aims at exploring how the relationality inherent to the performance of lived experience enables the access to unknown truths and the unveiling of unsuspected imaginaries.

The paper is based on the discussion of the findings of a performance-based research investigating the production of meaning in autobiographical performance in dramatherapy. One of the research findings reveals how the process of witnessing in autobiographical performance enables the connection with oneself through the connection and identification with the performed lived experience of others. This identification results in a singular process of transformation and catharsis described as the unlocking of emotional and embodied states. The paper will particularly attempt to understand this phenomenon by suggesting how the process of identification is regulated through the aesthetic distance of the performance to create possibilities for renewed awareness, knowledge and change. The paper will make use of visual extracts of the research to illustrate the discussion.


Author: J. F. Jacques

expressive arts therapist, clinical supervisor, consultant, theatre director, performance maker, trainer