My article on PhDs in Theatre Studies was published in The Stage on 9th May. Given that it happened a few days before my birthday I manged to completely miss it! If anyone has any belated comments please feel free to add them here.
On 16th May I went along to The Reader Organisation’s conference ‘shared reading for healthy communities,’ were there was plenty of thought provoking dialogue to confirm and also challenge some of these beliefs. To recap from my previous post, The Reader are an organisation who run shared reading groups in clinical and community settings, often with individuals who have problems with alcoholism, chronic pain or depression. As part of the first session, reader Jon Greenhalgh testified to the impact that one of these groups had on his own life, by helping him to end a long relationship with alcoholism. Less than one hour in and I was already witnessing powerful testimony about the value of shared reading for personal wellbeing!
The way we use language to talk about mental illness has a significant impact on how society understands specific conditions. Medical terms such as ‘bi-polar’ or ‘depression’ create a framework of symptoms or behaviors that individuals might be expected to exhibit in social situations, leading to common stereotypes and misunderstanding. While medical language is valid for certain purposes, it is necessary to develop a more nuanced lexicon to enable suffers to express the complexity of their own subjective experiences and to enrich social understandings of mental health issues.
I got really excited this week, when I came across The Reader Organisation’s annual conference titled “We need a new language for mental health”. This call to arms seems to acknowledge the importance of language in defining mental crisis. The title fired my imagination and got me asking, what might a new language for talking about mental health sound like? What kinds of words might be most adequate for reflecting the complexity of emotions such as fear, anxiety and anger?
Philippa Strandberg; a potential PhD student in theatre who I have interviewed for my article, teaching her BA students at Italia Conti
This week I am finishing a piece of writing for The Stage with a working title of “Should British Universities abolish PhDs in Theatre Studies?” The title is intentionally provocative and is devised in response to an article that was published in The Chronicle of Higher Education in America earlier this year. Written by a disenfranchised PhD in Theatre, this article attacked the PhD qualification as being worthless in the context of a shrinking American academic job market.
Performance Re-enactment Society, After Yoko Ono, Grapefruit (1964), Arnolfini, 2009, Photo Carl Newland
Have you ever wondered what happens to a website after people stop using it? When technology develops and pages are redesigned or abandoned, digital content can be lost forever. At a time when some of the best writing around live art, performance and experimental practices now takes place online, we stand to lose vital historical information if these sites are not properly archived.
I’ve recently landed an exciting job working for a small organisation called Unfinished Histories. They have a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to record British Alternative Theatre, 1968 -88, through interviews and collecting of archival material. We’re on the look out for preforming artists and directors who were involved with alternative companies that performed in the Camden and Lambeth area during this period. If you were part of this scene, we want to hear from you!