I attended the Stimuli workshop because I heard so much about theater as an “art of self-knowledge” and could not relate to that because, from my Russian experience, theater was something else. 🙂 I may not have answered my question “what is theater?”, but I feel it has tremendous potential as a form of therapy.
Arka Mukhopadhyay writes in response to this:
“Yes, the theatre of your country, especially that of Stanislavsky, appears to be one of only craft and technique, but at a deeper level, it would also bear out what your actor friend says. And of course, there is the work of Meyerhold.
To paraphrase two sayings of Augusto Boal, founder of Theatre of the Oppressed: ‘we don’t do theatre, we are theatre’; and ‘this is theatre – the art of looking at ourselves’.
Theatre, of course, is used as a form of clinical therapy, viz. dramatherapy and psychodrama.
But when I call my work ‘theatre as therapy’, I am not meaning it in the clinical sense. Rather, it is an attempt towards a kind of integration, wholeness, of the Self, and it is in this sense that I call it therapy.
In this context, you might want to check out the life and work of Jerzy Grotowski, a Polish theatre visionary who has profoundly influenced my vision. He studied in Russia, in fact, and at the height of international fame he left the professional stage to dedicate the rest of his life to what he called ‘para-theatre’: taking theatre back to its ritualistic roots, making it truly participatory and doing away with the divide between ‘doer’ and ‘watcher’. It is this paratheatrical work that I am trying do emulate in my own way, adding to it the other experiences that have shaped my journey – exposure to the Upanishads and to Buddhist meditation, for instance.”