Therapy As Performance continues my three-decade body of work in autobiographically-derived performance and Performance as Medicine.
Therapy As Performance will be a long-term series of unscripted, unrehearsed 50-minute public therapy sessions, which will exist, in the simultaneous spheres of public performance and private therapy.
I will perform as the Constant Client with a different Guest Therapist at each session. Each therapist will represent a different therapeutic modality, revealing and creating a different persona/character for the Constant Client.
By inviting the therapist(s) into ‘my’ world of performance art, I will be inverting the traditional relationship (whose office is this, anyway?), framing and exploring the performativity of the therapist and the ‘character’ that ensues.
The acknowledged presence of the audience (the third ‘character’ in this drama) will itself generate content and meaning, while catalyzing interior forms of audience participation such as memory, identification, transference, self-reflection and projection.
The implicit performativity of psychotherapy, in which the client performs the role of client/patient and the therapist performs the role of therapist, is here made overt, self-referential, and public. Notions of fixed and fluid identity, self-representation, self/non-self, power differentials, agency, honesty, gender roles, and psyche/soul are embedded and exposed in the format of performed therapy. Given that this will be performance, the possibility of fictionalization in the perception of the audience is expected and welcome: is this true, is this scripted, is this “real”?
Extreme close-ups of both the client and therapists’ facial expressions and body language will be live-composed and live-projected, referencing Paul Ekman’s work in micro expressions and emotion. Each performed session will be documented for further research, project development and a documentary about the entire process.
Each session will be followed by a discussion led by a different distinguished moderator from fields including Psychotherapy, Performance Studies, Gender Studies, Somatics, and Mindfulness Practices.
The first performed therapy sessions will take place in my home studio, further blurring notions of public/private and art/life. These initial experiments will inform subsequent versions to take place at The Cherry Arts and other national theaters.
I am using the word “therapist” broadly, to eventually include not only psychotherapists, but practitioners in a multitude of modalities. Future performative iterations will include Embodied Dreamwork as Performance, Astrology as Performance, Hypnotherapy as Performance, Genetics as Performance, and Preparing for Dying as Performance.
Therapy As Performance will investigate female autobiography (with all its inherent, historical dangers), self-representation possibilities, the age-old question, “who am I?” and the experience of the multiplicity of all our selves as the personae in a theatrical event.
Trans-generational trauma (specifically my own, as a daughter of Holocaust survivors), living with chronic illness and disability (specifically my own), being an artist, gender, sexuality, relationships, body, time and aging, politics, money, experiences of non-ordinary reality (metaphysical and mystical realms), as well as the contingencies of the everyday will be content I will have available for analysis and (possible) transformation.
As part of this project, I will be interviewing different therapists in advance of the performances. These “auditions” will also be documented, as will meetings with the speaker/moderators.
I will also be enlisting therapists of different modalities to work with me prior to the performed sessions to prepare to reveal myself deeply and authentically in this format. Other preparations will involve practice and study of unadorned presence such as meditation, retreat, somatics, and improvisation in the form of verbal stream of consciousness.
“… the tension between the public and private.
How far do you go?”
– James Hillman, Archetypal Psychologist