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Rural adult popular education performatively inquiring into psychiatric experiences Noble, Steven Edward 2006-10-26

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RURAL ADULT POPULAR EDUCATION PERFORMATIVELY INQUIRING INTO PSYCHIATRIC EXPERIENCES by STEVEN EDWARD NOBLE B.A.A. (Honours) (Business) Ryerson Polytechnical University, 1986 M.A. (Adult Education) University of British Columbia, 1998 A THESIS SUBMITTED iN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Educational Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA July, 2006 © Steven Edward Noble, 2006ABSTRACT Problem: Psychiatrically diagnosed people living in rural Canada are often silenced or rendered invisible. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to: (i) disrupt “normal” ways of thinking about psychiatric diversity and (ii) create better relationships between psychiatric survivors and other people. These aims were achieved by staging a popular theatre production in a chicken barn. Conceptual Approach: This study was located in a radical humanist framing of critical adult education and social relations. Radical humanism foregrounds human subjectivity and is committed to social change. The conceptual framework supporting the study was arrayed as a pyramid. Radical humanism envelops the structure. At the base, were insights drawn from critical disability studies and rural sociology. The second tier pulled from critical pedagogy and popular adult education. Performativity sits on the third level. Popular theatre processes stepped the pyramid to the next level and the top is comprised of Existentialism and absurdist theatre forms. Methodology: The methodology consisted of a performative inquiry that involved the staging of, and learning within, an absurdist popular theatre production. Instead of an “ideal” polished performance, with elaborate staging, a “rough” performance evoked questions, provoked meanings and generated new examinations. The research involved six stages - group formation, theatre “training,” performance development, presentation, post-production and social action. Results/Conclusions: i) Cast members appeared to become more autonomous, were focused on a task for an extended period, and reported encountering a more authentic (less psychiatrically constructed) view of self. They also became attuned to ways other individuals negotiate experiences within their lives. ii) Spectators generalized similarities and contradictions evoked by the play to other life-settings. iii) The author scrutinized his shifts in awareness as both facilitator and co-searcher. It was concluded that the disparity in understanding of what it means to be psychiatrically diagnosed by others in society remains deep; theatre offers an opportunity to interrupt this discrimination. Through the interactive popular performance experience, there was a lessening of fears and stereotyping that plague individuals labeled as “mentally ill.” This shift in the relationship between psychiatric survivors and others created an opening for group members to reconnect to local society as citizens. 11TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT.ii TABLE OF CONTENTS iii LIST OF TABLES x LIST OF FIGURES xi GLOSSARY xii PREFACE xxv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS xxvi DEDICATION xxvii CHAPTER ONE OVERVIEW OF THIS INQUIRY 1 Introduction 1 Purposes 2 The Question 2 Mental Diversity 4 Mental Identity 7 Mental Voice 9 Mad/Mental Pride 11 Rural Life 12 Transitions 13 New Country 14 Methodology 15 Performative Inquiry 15 Adult Education 17 Popular Theatre 20 Absurdism 21 111Procedures .23 The Researcher-Participant 25 Overview Of The Dissertation 27 Summary 29 CHAPTER TWO PERFORMING INQUIRIES OF (IN)SANITY 30 Introduction 30 Radical Humanism 31 Popular Adult Education 34 Andragogy 35 Popular Education 38 Performative Inquiry 43 The Biological Roots ofPerformative Inquiry 45 Enactivist Roots 46 Knowledge Reconceptualized 47 Popular Theatre: Collective Meaning-Making 52 Contemplating Popular Theatre 53 Barba ‘s Approach 54 The Popular Theatre Process 56 Forms of Absurdity To Inform Life 60 Existentialism 60 Absurdism ‘s Forms 64 Summary: Adult Popular Education Performatively Inquiring 69 CHAPTER THREE PROCEDURES: FOOTPRINTS OF THE STUDY 71 Introduction 71 Gathering the Co-Searchers 71 ivHow Insights Were Unfolded .77 Stages in the Process 78 Entering the Liminality of our Work 79 Closing Our Threshold World 79 Sources of Understanding 80 Thoughts From the Field 81 Conceptual Interpretation 81 Cast Reflections 82 Audience Reflections 83 A Bare Wall For Enactive Interpretation 83 Facilitator Reflections 83 Emerging Possibilities 84 Summary 85 CHAPTER FOUR CHAOTIC COMPLEXITY: CO-SEARCHING IN THE CROSSROADS 86 Introduction 86 Emergent Chaos as Home Place 86 Ordered Chaos: Where the Study Resides 90 The Vessel Holding Our Explorations 91 The Emotional Walk 93 Bodyguards 94 Have You Seen My Friend 94 Bombardment 94 Complete The Image 97 Making Sense of Where Lives (in Rehearsal) Traversed 99 VThe Poultiy Barn .103 Reflections, Interpretations, Possibilities 105 Summary 114 CHAPTER FIVE CAST MEMBERS’ EVIDENCE OF PERFORMATIVE INQUIRY 116 Introduction 116 Comprehending Voice 117 Suicide 117 The Pull ofthe Closet 119 Struggles of Voice 120 Speaking As Dangerous Practice 123 Acceptance of Identity 126 From Make-Believe Comes Experiencing Self 126 Mutual Support 129 Normalized Identity 131 Positive Self To Integrate L4fe 133 Co-Searchers ‘ Response to Negative Reaction 135 Straightforward Success 136 Power To Influence 137 Acceptance ofRisk Opens to Sense ofAutonomy 139 Tenacity As Power 140 Power In Labelling 143 Emerging Autonomy 145 Emotional Power 148 Power ofCreativity 148 Putting The Pieces Together 151 viSummary .153 CHAPTER SIX COMMUNITY EVIDENCE OF PERFORMATIVE INQUIRY 155 Introduction 155 The Scream of Silenced Voices 156 An Evening’s Entertainment 157 Silenced Voices In A Small Town 158 Hearing Voices 159 Risky Speaking 161 Through Humour Comes Self 161 Recognizing The Other In Ourselves 164 See The Human Beyond The Label 165 Reaffirming Belonging In A Rural Community 165 Creating Creative Identities 167 Being Positively Committed 168 Ableist Fear Ableist Denial 169 Struck By Pride 172 Confronting Normally -Normally Confronting 173 Relationship of Power 175 Power In Political Satire 176 Power In Silence — Bodies Speaking 177 Power Through Play... In Play...As Play 178 Where There Is Power: Resistance 180 Emotional Strength 181 Summary 184 viiCHAPTER SEVEN MY INTERSTANDINGS AND MOMENTS OF RECOGNITION 185 Introduction 185 Acts of Silence: Stillness As Voice 186 Respectfully Challenging 187 Borders and Internal Transgressions of Identity 189 Beginnings 190 The Aloneness OfThe Process 191 “Lightening Rod” 192 The Nature OfChange 193 Jack OfAll Roles, Master OfNone 194 Seeking Legitimacy 196 Constructing Power During Transgression 196 Popular Theatre As Oppression? 198 Internal Power Struggles 199 Control Versus Power 200 A Cathartic Moment 201 Transient Power 202 Performative Power 203 Facilitator As Mentoring Influence 204 Power In The “Non-Visible” 206 Subtle Influences OfRural Space 207 Relationships Found Within Voice-Identity-Power 208 Emerging Sense ofPower Within Performativity 209 Summary 210 viiiCHAPTER EIGHT PERFORMING LIFE AFTER LIVING AN INQUIRY 212 Implications For Praxis 212 Opening Up Spaces: Opening Up Voices 213 Identity Formation 215 Gaining Power 218 Implications For Rural Theorizing 223 New Rural Realities 223 Community Development 225 Citizenship Roles 226 Implications for Performative Inquiry As Methodology 226 Adult Education Praxis 226 Performative Inquiry 229 Popular Theatre Praxis 232 Existentialist/A bsurdist Forms 233 Therapeutic Praxis 233 Further Research Program 235 Summary 236 REFERENCES 238 APPENDIX A INTRODUCTION TO METHODOLOGICAL OVERVIEW .254 APPENDIX B CONSTRUCTIONS OF DISABILITY AND MENTAL DISORDER 261 APPENDIX C RURAL DISCOURSES IN CONTEXT 279 APPENDIX D ETHICS CERTIFICATES 298 APPENDIX E NEWSPAPER ADVERTISEMENT 301 APPENDIX F INFORMED CONSENT FORM 302 APPENDIX G MENTAL SEEKING MENTAL 306 APPENDIX H LISTING OF THEMATIC SCENES 307 APPENDIX I NEWSPAPER REVIEW OF THE PLAY 317 ixLIST OF TABLES Table 1 A Comparison of Knowles’ Andragogical Assumptions and Principles in Relation to the Research 36 Table 2 Why Do Adult Education and Performative Inquiry Co-exist Well7 37 Table 3 Connecting Freirian Adult Education Principles to Performative Inquiry Methodology, Popular Theatre Methods, Absurdist Forms to SHAKEN. NOT DISTURBED 40 Table 4 Delphi Technique Procedure 100 Table 5 Cast’s Results of Its Performative Inquiry as Illustrated in the show “SHAKEN: NOT DISTURBED... with a twist. 106 Table 6 A Listing of Aha Moments and the Exercises That Evoked Them 111 Table 7 The Handout Provided in the Show’s Program With Recommendations for Helping Mentally Disordered People Live Better Lives 113 Table 8 “Aha” Moments and Relationships to Voice, Identity and Power 220 xLIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 The cast rehearsing in the gym 24 Figure 2 The cast rehearsing in the barn 24 Figure 3 Theoretical relationships incorporated within the study 31 Figure 4 A map of social change and education theory and philosophy within four broad approaches and the relationship among them 33 Figure 5 A continuum of structure in adult education 35 Figure 6 A diagram of Freire’s culture circle 38 Figure 7 A popular theatre cycle 58 Figure 8 Showing the relationships of key theories during the weekly rehearsals in connection with co-searchers’ lives 67 Figure 9 The opening circle 77 Figure 10 Analysis process of textual data 82 Figure 11 Emotional walk 93 Figure 12 Completing the image 98 Figure 13 The cast setting up in the barn 104 Figure 14 “Feeling” the barn space 105 Figure 15 Emerging relationships of voice, identity and power through performative inquiry/popular theatre in the lives of psychiatric survivors 153 xiGLOSSARY OF TERMS Disability Glossary Term Glossary Definition CITIZEN/CITIZENSHIP Being a member of and included within a community. Allowed in to a community implies receiving or being granted a set of entitlements to legal equality and justice, the right to be consulted on political matters and access to a minimum of protection against economic insecurity, while simultaneously required to fulfill certain obligations to state and society. (Cohen & Kennedy, 2000, p. 375.) “CLOSET” A notion drawn from queer theory whereby an individual with a marked, stigmatized and invisible difference can pass as someone acceptable — usually the prevailing sense of “normal.” The walls become daily performances and utterances blocking outsiders from knowing a person’s full sense of self but also inhibit the person in the “closet” from conveying a more complete sense of being. COUCH SURFING The practice among individuals without a fixed home address, when they crash for a night or more at another’s house, sleeping most often on the floor or sofa. CRITICAL A theory seeking pathways of freedom for a particular group, DISABILITY THEORY in this case disabled people. Horkheimer (1982) also suggests three attributes for a critical theory: explanations as to what is wrong in society with regard to disabled people; identification of changes in society able to occur for this group and; description of goals for social transformation. There also is some sense of normativity with regard to how criticism is constructed. DISABILITY A disability is any restriction resulting from an impairment, of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being (Blocksidge, 2003; WHO, 1980) DISEASE Emanates from medical discourse. A pathological condition of a body part or organ caused by the interplay of external and internal factors (environmental, social, economic, viral, stress and bacteria expressed through a variety of symptoms. Often used synonymously with disorder (Blocksidge, 2003; WHO, 1980). xliDISORDER Emanates from medical discourse. Often used synonymously with disease. A condition where there is a disturbance of anticipated or expected physical or mental functioning. In this way, the “cause” is in the reading and relying upon expectations rather than comprehending another’s self. There is not an allusion to “natural order” or “normal” functioning. This concept places the “cause” in the body of the person read as abnormal. EMBODIED MENTAL This is a more enactivist interpretation of psychiatric DISCONNECTION “disorder.” A cause for how mental difference is “read” is what occurs between individuals. When one person is performing in a particular way, and the observed action is read narrowly by another, a mismatch of behaviour expectations occurs. Because of the unique cultural, class, gender, sexuality, experiential, etc. attributes of each person interacting, inaccurate interpretations can lead to erroneously pathologizing performances. The cause, rather than residing within an individual’s body emerges through relationships, performance expectations and interpretations of actions observed. HANDICAP A physical or attitudinal constraint imposed upon a person regardless of whether that person has a disability. Also, the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normal life of the community on an equal level with others due to physical or social barriers. (Blocksidge, 2003, p. 32). HOMELESS Three levels of homeless exist: those who are “literally” homeless, move in and out of “literal” homelessness on a regular basis, or “at risk” of becoming homeless. This study draws upon all three because of the fineness of the lines (if they can even be defined neatly). The notion of “literally” has several criteria, being a person who: (1) stayed overnight in a shelter designated for homeless people, runaways, or neglected or abused women; (2) sheltered at least one night in a house, apartment or room paid for with municipal, provincial or federal emergency housing funds; (3) lived overnight in a place not meant for human habitation (e.g., a vacant building, a public or commercial facility, a city park, a car or on the street; (4) has a regular place to stay that is not their own (e.g., people who traded sexual favors for shelter or spent one night in a hotel or hospital); or (5) uses a soup kitchen or emergency food bank for the homeless population (City of Toronto, 1999, 2004) xliiIDENTITY “ERASURE” Others have not imagined that a person with mental disorders has a fully functioning and valued identity worthy of understanding, i.e., those with mental disorders are managed as “things,” rather than related to as people with rich lives and experiences. By ignoring a rich interior mental life springing from a defined sense of self, the result is the wiping away of this experience from an individual. Their disorder becomes their identity. IMPAIRMENT Does have negative connotations among disabled people because there is attached a meaning of being “devalued,” “weak,” “damage,” and “less effective.” Within this study the word is narrowly defined to mean “inability” to perform in expected ways. MAINSTREAM Social values espoused to be “most legitimate and valued” within society are those held by individuals who are male, straight, white, upper/middle classed, youthful, Christian, able-bodied, western, and married .. . or individuals who fall into this strata of society. MARGINS/Borders The largest human social system is all of humanity encompassing the globe. Innumerable smaller networks and structures exist within, i.e. trade zones, nations, states, provinces, cities, villages, towns, social groups cultural groups, language groups and neighbourhoods, families, friendships, occupations groups, among others. Within each, a small clique possesses most of the power and privilege; others have little. They are either rendered non-visible or pushed to the edges of a particular system. These margins are often socially and/or economically marked by disadvantage. Borders among these sub-systems mark those with advantage and those without. These boundaries are meant to keep “like groups” together. In turn, crossing these frontiers, in either direction, is difficult. Blurring the edges is enforced in subtle and coercive ways. It is with this in mind, that the study is an example of border pedagogy envisioned by Freire (1970) and Giroux (1992). MENTAL IDENTITY How an individual envisions how one’s own sense of mental living and understanding contributes to a sense of self. This concept is resonant with various queer identities’ understanding their sexual selves and self-perceptions as they experience society and interactions with others. NON-VISIBLE A distinction is made between “invisible” which means something or someone that simply cannot be seen — because of inability. “Non-visible” are things or people able to be seen, but the potential observer “chooses” (intentionally or through habit) not to see, i.e., many passersby “choose” not to see panhandlers on the street. xivNORMAL The concept of “normal” is offensive when used in a context comparing “disabled people” with “normal people” since it implies that disabled people are abnormal. The opposite of disabled is non-disabled (Blocksidge, 1995, p. 50). Narrowly, the word “normal” describes the “anticipated” or “expected.” This places the concept within the body-mind of an observer rather than in something “out there.” See embodied mental disconnection. NORMATE The constructed identity of those who, by way of the bodily configurations and cultural capital they assume, can step into a position of authority and wield the power it grants them (Garland-Thompson, 1997, p. 8). OTHERING To distance, silence, deny or dismiss aspects of selves that are deemed peripheral, marginal, unimportant or worthless from within cultural expectations and expressions (Pickering, 2001). SOCIAL CENTRE Related to margins. A powerful group of institutions and/or individuals who exert economic and social authority upon a society for all members to conform to a constellation of beliefs, values, practices, morals, standards and habits deemed to acceptable and valuable to the interests of this central influence. The processes used may be either hidden, observable or “non-visible.” POWER Within a systems-oriented, enactivist conception, the notion of “power” is one of having the ability to make decisions that affect one or more within a social system. Power also is defined by the ability and opportunity to gain entry and change mechanisms of social system decision-making (Wartenberg, 1990). PSYCHIATRIC There is no attribution as to who coined this term; however, it SURVIVOR arose during the late 1 960s and the work of Howard Geld and his founding of the Insane Liberation Front. Those who state that their human rights were violated by mental health systems use the term. (MindFreedom, 2003; World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, 2001) VOICE An intentional way to give expression for a person’s or group’s existence, needs, desires, identity in order to achieve a particular goal, including legitimacy and acceptance. xvRural Sociology Glossary Term Glossary Definition AGRI..TOURISM The act of visiting a working farm for the purpose of enjoyment,education, or active involvement in the activities of the farm (Lobo, 2005). COMMUNITY A group of individuals who inhabit some sense of similarity together and who identify themselves as such. This concept can evolve through some common geography, interest, experience, network, occupation and so on. FACTORY An agricultural enterprise that is corporately owned where there is: FARM separation of ownership, management and labour and in some casesfull or partial vertical integration. Also, these operations are marked by hundreds or thousands of head of stock housed in crowded buildings that are highly mechanized for efficiency of “manufacturing” “animal units” ready for “processing” (Bechthold, 2005). FAMILY FARM An agricultural enterprise owned and operated by an informal system - either family or family corporation. Some or all of the family live on or near the farm they operate collectively. Also these concerns are usually much smaller than factory farms, with fewer animals, more use of pasture and a more relaxed regime for raising livestock. (Bechthold, 2005). “JUST-IN-TIME Comes from corporate re-engineering discourse whereby the AGRICULTURE” matching of production and service delivery processes to sales is done to maximize resources without the danger of having stockpiles of unsold merchandise tying up money. Within the agricultural sense, it is one of matching farm production dates (meat processing, farm produce, growing seasons, etc.) to when corporate or institutional buyers want to purchase to maximize quality and efficiencies of the farm system with the grocery retail system (Dial, 1997). RURAL For the purposes of this study the following all were used to determine whether Cowichan Valley could be considered “rural.” . Most postal codes in the area have a “0” in the second position from the left indicating a rural area. • Most people live outside settlements larger than 1,000 people. • Most people live outside the commuting zone of larger centers (larger than 10,000 people) • Most people live in areas where there are fewer than 150 people per sq. km. (OECD criterion) • More than 50% of people live in rurally designated areas within the region. • There are no urban centers with 50,000 people or more in the region. (de Plessis, Beshiri, Bollman & Clemenson, 2001) URBAN Regions where at least half of the criteria listed in “rural” do notapply. xviAdult Education Glossary Term Glossary Definition ANDRAGOGY The art and science of teaching adults (Knowles, 1980). CODIFICATION Identifying part of larger theme into smaller parts and turningthese aspects into problems to be resolved. These are usually daily representations presented in some visual manner. Usually there are two phases of this in a cultural circle. The first is problematizing, the second one is turning new learning into action by identifying what needs changing. (Freire, 1970, 1997). CONSCIENTIZATION An ongoing reflective practice that gradually moves anoppressed person or group toward cntical consciousness. (Freire, 1970, 1997) CRITICAL A never-completed goal that is always strived toward through a CONSCIOUSNESS process of conscientization. This aim is marked by ability tointerpret experiential issues in complex ways: test one s findings, open to changing directions in resolution, avoid influences that distort and ability to hold both the old ways alongside the new ways of knowing (Freire, 1970, 1997). CULTURE CIRCLES A discussion group where educators and learners use a cycle ofcodifications and decodifications to identify social issues. Once done, then these aspects are interpreted or analyzed with a view to finding ways to change, through collective social action (Freire, 1970, 1997). CULTURE OF Freire describes oppressed and alienated people as living within SILENCE an environment where dominant or powerful groups do notrecognize, hear or see these groups. Authorities choose what disenfranchised groups will speak through the control of social institutions. This influence silences the voices of excluded people from fully participating and being recognized citizens (Freire, 1970, 1997). DECODIFICATION This is the pulling apart or teasing open a codification to look atthe various influences that support the part of a generative theme being examined. Also, as more codifications are identified, decodification interprets how the relationships among parts of the theme work together to create social oppression and disenfranchisement. In the culture circle, the discussions are the process what helps to expose the sources and exercise of repression (Freire, 1970, 1997). DIALECTIC A dynamic tension existing within a system and the process ofchange that occurs as a result of the unease. While Freire envisioned a discussion, Boal drew upon the interaction of bodies in theatre to portray performatively the dialectics of oppression. (Boal, 1974; Freire, 1970). xviiDIALOGICAL A process marked by the acceptance and collective roles within METHOD learning whereby teacher and learner are blurred and often interchangeable among participants (Freire, 1970). FIRST LEARNING Often thought of as something children engage in. When a person takes in new awareness or a “stopped moment of recognition,” there can be experienced a sense of disbelief or hesitation before allowing the knowing in, but then there is wonderment and fascination to explore more deeply. GENERATIVE Freire uses generative themes are complex codifications that are THEMES broad in scope and usually identify big issues. For example, in Shaken, a generative theme was “employment” but then codifications that supported the theme included the El office, the El appeal panel, trying to fit into work places, being used out and so on (Freire, 1970). MYSTIFICATION The process by which oppressive influences are disguised and hidden away in “normal social processes.” Simple explanations, disinformation and superficial myths are used to distort authorities’ exercise of power. For example, in Shaken, the use of doctors stating their failed attempts at healing asylum inmates was only because there efforts were utterly altruistic and in patients’ best interest (Freire, 1970). PRAXIS A cycle of action, reflection, action. As an act is performed, the experience of that performance is reflected upon, changes made and additional engagement (Freire, 1970). Performative Inquiry Glossary Term Glossary Definition AUTOPOIESIS A self-maintaining unity or system where the component parts are created internally. These are closed systems in that they can stand on their own and can maintain themselves over time (Varela, Maturana & Uribe, 1974). BODY The physical and physiological presence of a person in space. BODY-MIND Two unities involving an individual co-exist. One is physical, the other is the interior mental life. In much Western thought, these are examined as separate entities, one from the other. While they can be understood as distinct, they both inform one another in a multitude of ways. Enactivist and performative inquirers envision this. As a result, the two unities describing physical and mental are reconnected into a whole. xviiiMany definitions exist that all involve aspects of systems inCHAOS/EDGE OF constant, random change. Within these attributes others are CHAOS included here: a variety of influences and variables exert their presence in a variety of ways that cannot be predicted. Processes that are evident are themselves open to change so as to appear in disarray or disordered, when actually there is a sense of unity that can arise over the long term, but cannot be recognized in the short term. Because of the constant flux and openness to the addition or taking away of factors, these systems are not stable, but are dynamic to shifts in environments. Even the slightest of shifts can affect dramatically as described by Lorenz’ s “Butterfly Effect” (Lorenz, 1996) COMPLEX Within complexity theory, a complex system is one where the various parts are not linked in a linear way whereby change to one portion results in a counterbalancing shift in another. The two parts come back to equilibrium. A non-linear or complex system means that a change in one aspect does not result in seeking for restored balance, but creates a ripple throughout the system in ways not always foreseen. CO-SEARCHER This term was coined for this research. All who participated within this study were actively seeking out something together. The “co” aligns with the notions of co-llaboration and co-operation. These terms are enactivist in sensibility in that all who are engaged are part of the whole environment at the same time. EMBODY Something given visible, physical form or expression. EMBODIED CAST Participants in this project are multiply “embodied” through theirbodies giving concrete expression of its voice, identity, experiences and presence. EMBODIED The total sense of being fully aware of one’s total emotional, CONSCIOUSNESS physical, rational, psychological, experiential, memory life in, and as part of, the world. EMBODIED Examinations that involve the entirety of physical interactions of EXPLORATIONS whole bodies. EMBODIED Related to embodied cast with the addition that understanding that LEARNERS participants are realizing in the experience of this study are being physically expressed through how they interact within their lives and changes they perceive to this. ENACTIVIST Sumara & Davis (1997) examine this notion from a desire to (Cognition/Learning) understand the “us/not us relation” (p. 415). Their wish is to foreground the ways individuals act out as a way to engage with others. These processes for making sense are often left unnoticed until some event disturbs their non-visibility forcing recognition of their existence. Actions are seen as not reflective of interior motivations, but are themselves understandings. Learning is not an individual act but shared action. xixFELT This concept describes the occurrence of something that is not EXPERIENCE readily seen but instead is taken in by the body’s sensing. There is an interior responding to something by the body, without an immediate recognition of what (and often the brain cannot ever adequately describe what has happened.) The body feels before mental processing. This can be roughly equated to intuition, whereby, for example, the body feels threatened without any apparent reason or an individual senses being excluded but cannot “put their finger on why they ‘feel’ this way.” FLOW Occurs when an individual is so completely involved in an activity, that anything else that could compete is excluded (Csikszentmihalyi, 1998). FRAMED SPACE This is connected to the notion of “container.” Within popular theatre, performances often take place where people are. In order to “carve out” an area to perform, there is a marking out through various means to say: “For the moment this is going to hold an activity a little separate from the everyday.” By doing this there is a focusing on what is occurring. Everything that brackets the performance helps to frame the space to hold popular theatre. HABITUS An individual’s cluster of learned dispositions operating concretely as organizing principles for experiencing, evaluating and living one’s daily life. One’s habitus organizes an individual’s living practice, habit and everyday routine (Bourdieu, 2001; Fowler, 1997) INTERSTANDING Awareness that “falls out” or emerges between bodies interacting. Relating and inter-relating creates insights, rather than resides in an individual alone (Fels, 1998; Taylor and Saarinen, 1994) KNOWLEDGE Constructed as a verb rather than a noun as in: knowing is being is doing (Davis, Sumara, & Kieren, 1996). Fels (1998) added “creating” and in this study “playing” is added. Rather than something to be found, knowledge is engagement. Drawn from the writings of Habermas, this concept includes many aspects: one’s view of life, dynamics of daily participation, the cluster of implied assumptions to support one’s outlook, the stock of shared understandings (interstandings in this study), involves communicative rationality and action, self concept and a sense of “normed” and meaningful living. The power of the assumptions in one’s lifeworld is its taken-for granted quality. Rendering them visible and known destroys their efficacy, such as the work done by the cast in this study (Habermas, 1987). Likened to an “aha” moment in education. During performative inquiring, an instant occurs when some passing awareness arises within one’s body while fully engaged in an activity. Often the effect is to startle one’s thinking and actions to stop and reflect. These instances open one’s self up to new potential and possibilities for exploration (Fels, 2003, 1998). LIFEWORLD MOMENTS OF RECOGNITION xxPERFORMANCE Is considered to be both thing and action at the same time and is “an action-space of creative critical interplay realized through imaginative response and action” (Fels, 2003, p. 243). Also etymologically this is described as “through the destruction of form we come to action” (Fels. 2003, p. 233). PERFORMATIVE “A (re)search vehicle that embraces performance through creative INQUIRY action and interaction as a space-action of learning and exploration” (Fels, 1999, p. 33). PLAY A free and voluntary activity that occurs in a pure space, isolated and protected from the rest of life. Play is uncertain because the outcome may not be foreseen. It is governed by rules that provide a level playing field for all players. Play involves responding to an opponents action and to engage with the situation as freely as the rules allow (Caillois, 2001). There is an echo here with existentialists who claim humans are “condemned” to be free, so are trapped. Games provide the same: participants are free to play but are condemned to rules. RESEARCHER- This is my role as the facilitator and author within this study. I am PARTICIPANT researching a particular experience and am participating within the process. The cast are also included in this role, but from a different vantage point. The group is exploring members’ lives as psychiatric survivors through participating in a performative inquiry. (See co-searcher) SPACE-ACTION As the term implies, the combination of two unities brought together to co-create one new whole. One’s action and interactions with others occur within a particular environment. Within this, performative inquiry happens. STOP The moments within a performative inquiry when co-searchers often literally freeze when there is an instant of indecision during the course of interactions.., when there is both a moment of risk and of opportunity (Applebaum, 1995). Popular Theatre Glossary Term Glossary Definition EXTRA- A performe?s physical and mental presence is modelled according to DAILY performance principles, which are different from those applied in daily life (Barba, 1995). FOUND Popular theatre often does not occur in a location specially designed SPACE for performing. Instead, performances go to where the people, whose issue it is, can be found. Offerings can be set up in parks, under bridges, in the street or warehouses or as in this case, a poultry barn. Space is “found” that will suit the audience and what is to be performed. xxiMETAXIS The state of belonging completely and simultaneously to two different autonomous worlds: the image of reality and the reality of the image (Boal, 1995). POOR A presentation of theatre eliminating all non-essential production THEATRE elements, i.e., costumes, sound effects, makeup, sets, lighting, and strictly defined playing area, in an effort to redefine the relation between actors and the audience (Grotowski, 1968). POPULAR Means relating to people, rather than something admired or known in a widespread way. Theatre that is popular is performance created by the people, with the people, for the people and involves issues directly affecting the people (Kidd, 1980). POPULAR “a process of theatre which deeply involves specific communities in THEATRE identifying issues of concern, analyzing current conditions and causes of a situation, identifying points of change, and analyzing how change could happen and/or contributing to the actions implied” (Prentki & Selman, 2000, p. 8). “SATS” “In the instant which precedes the action, when all the necessary force is ready to be released into space but as though suspended and still under control, the performer perceives her/his energy in the form of sats, of dynamic preparation” (Barba, 1995, p. 42). It is the moment of both impulse and counter-impulse or holding counter actions together for an instant. SPECT- A term coined by Boal (1974) whereby more active roles for audience ACTOR members is created so that spectators become actors within the unfolding performance, and, at times, some performers watch. Traditional roles of onlooker and doer become blurred. Existentialism Glossary Term Glossary Definihon ANGST The freedom to choose causes fear — the terror of making the “wrong” choice and was said to comprise anguish, forelornness, despair with responsibility (Sartre, 1948, 1979). ALIENATION Alienation or isolation is said to be the essential existential state(Sartre, 1948). Existentialists construct the private self as closeted from public view. The closet, itself, is significant in its assertion about the solitary condition of the individual (Camus, 1989, 1995). AUTHENTICITY Authenticity defines a condition on self-making. Do I make myself(being an autonmous subject), or will I become a reflection of the roles I find myself in through circumstances and people making me (a dependent object) who I am (Camus, 1989; Sartre 1948). The “making” is what is important.... What I become is less important than how. xxiiBAD FAITH Consists of an individual assuming a false sense of self. This taking on is not imposed from outside, but is a willing act of accepting a situation as fact on what the individual knows is faulty evidence: By treating oneself as a free person, s/he is no longer seen as an object (Sartre, 1948). BEING One’s perceived sense of self, existing within the larger world. EXISTENTIAL AND Refers to the being of an individual as one enmeshed and EXISTENTIALISM implicated with the larger lived world. Related to this notion is that of “free will” whereby an individual is left in the world and that person is left to “choose.” Each choice made reverberates throughout social systems that can “feel” the change. Each person has the ability to decide what to do with his/her life, but these can become hidden through the use of various authorities’ performances of intimidation and coercion. These actions “hide,” but do not erase, life decisions. FREE WILL The perceptual, cognitive, and emotional processes engaged in when presented with a choice. This choosing results in an intent to engage in one or more actions including inaction. Sartre stated that we are “condemned” to freedom, so how can it be called free? HYPERREALITY When an event or object is constructed as a simulation of experience to avoid the fact that the copy was of something that never really existed. (Baudrillard, 1995) MEANINGLESSNE Through the action of living the notion of everything being carried SS out holds no significance. There is no “cause” for this, but is said to simply be. This sense is thought to be permanent and affects every part of one’s life. Even structures used to create meaning collapse (Tillich, 1952). POSTMODERN A philosophy emphasizing the importance of power relationships, identity and voice in the “construction” of meaning and perspectives toward life experience. Absurdism Glossary Term Glossary Definition ABSURDISM A philosophy, usually incorporated into various art forms, contending any attempt to understand the universe will fail. The absurd is a result of confrontations between human desires for order, meaning, and purpose in life and the silent indifference of the universe (Camus, 1955). BLACK HUMOUR The dissonance between action and topic create a tension within the observer because the bleakness of an experience is taken to an exaggerated level as to create laughter, but the subject matter remains depressing. xxiiiCARNIVALESQUE These are themes relating to the circus, dramatically changing expectations, and inverting taken-for-granted social relationships. The world turned topsy-turvy, destruction in order for creation to occur. Seen as a form of resistance to the standard social order (Bakhtin, 1984). DECONSTRUCTION “Texts” create a one-dimensional view of the world and in sodoing silence various voices that are present. The result is one of audiences becoming tyrannized by a narrow view. Deconstruction is a reading of “texts” to tease out these hidden presences (Derrida, 1989). DISHARMONY Being that is incoherent, out of harmony, or in disarray. A state ofaffairs out of balance for taken-for-granted expectations. SATIRE Usually a style of writing with an aim to highlight the shortsightedness, weaknesses, or extravagances of another. The target is often someone or group that has power. This study takes satire into the theatre to perform, rather than write, about particular groups of power affecting adults living with psychiatric diagnoses. xxivPREFACE This is an invitation to you, the reader, to enter a project involving a group of people largely unimagined within society: psychiatric survivorship. To capture the journey of working performatively with individuals diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities, this thesis is constructed in a particular way. This project is concerned with a small group of psychiatric survivors and counsellors performatively exploring issues that related to the relationship between mainstream society and being perceived as “mentally different.” A show, entitled, Shaken: Not Disturbed... with a twist! was performed initially in a chicken barn and, again, at a local fringe festival to strong reviews. Language is always important, but in this case I feel it is most critical because of the interdisciplinarity of the work. In order to narrow the definitions of key terms used within the text, a lengthy glossary immediately precedes this preface. There are two parts to this dissertation. The main text contains the particularity of the context and the practice relating to what occurred between September 2002 and September 2003 in the town of Duncan on Vancouver Island. You will find in the appendices, in detail, the theoretical underpinnings, namely, broad methodological considerations, critical disability, rural sociology. A variety of approaches can be used when reviewing this dissertation. One can start at the beginning and read it from front to back, as it is provided here. Another path involves starting with the theoretical discussion in the appendices before proceeding to with the main text. Finally, a third is flipping between the body of the work and material at the back, as impulses are evoked. Perhaps as one engages physically and mentally with this text and the openness with which to read it, new meanings will arise. xxvACKNOWLEDGEMENTS People are always in the background helping and supporting a project of this nature. Above all I have to — I want to sing out my praise to the best, most animated, dynamic, warm, fun, and lively bunch of actors a popular theatre worker could ever hope to work with — and a group of the most understanding teachers in the area of mental disorder a fellow learner could ever wish to learn from. Each of you has become such an important part of my own changes as I explore my own sense of place within this social world. My only hope is pathways remain open for you to continue growing, speaking out, engaging with life, and working toward a future of your making. With great hugs of thanks: Lynn, Angela, Tamaira, Dale, Quentin, Marlene, Heather, Julia, Sherry, Jenny, Sam, Sarah, Donna, Aurora, Jay, Greg, Golda, and Diane. Also, many thanks to the staff and members at the Open Door Program in Duncan, BC, for allowing a stranger into their midst. I appreciated how welcoming and inclusive you were through the years of my “hanging around.” Thanks to Peter Rusland at the Duncan News Leader and Pictorial for being such an unabashed fan with the countless news stories and reviews of our progress and work. The town of Duncan British Columbia on Vancouver Island, thank you for being the ideal location and the most hospitable town, and for allowing me to enter and carry out my research. Of course, thank you to the Cowichan Fairgrounds for lending us its poultry barn. Thank you to my committee who slogged through drafts of this work. Even while I resisted at times and complained perhaps too much. . . .1 was learning... I have learned greatly from your collective experiences. Thank you: Jan Selman, Lynn Fels, Leslie Roman, Stephen Heatley, and Roger Boshier. I have to acknowledge some people who, from the shadows, quietly supported my work and cheered me on: Brian O’Neill, Mary Petty, and Cindy Patton, who always asked how I was doing through good times and not so smooth. My dear friends Cynthia Andruske and Valerie-Lee Chapman, in body and spirit, informed my writing in countless subtle ways. Even during some of your darkest hours, Cynthia, you were extremely helpful when reading over chapters and giving suggestions. Valerie’s passing just prior to presenting this to my committee is bittersweet, in that we had plans to celebrate together one of the last of “our group” of students moving on from Adult Ed/Ed Studies. Valerie is being missed everyday.... And lastly, and most importantly, I want to thank Vincent — who has lived through my masters and now through years of driving carloads of props and cast members to rehearsals and shows, navigating mountains of paper, helping in the panic that is backstage, and months of writing: my doctoral journey. Whose relentless love and persevering devotion and support has been the single greatest constant through this work and its frustrations, loneliness, joys, laughter, successes, and the process of living. This work is as much yours as it is mine because you were always simply just you... .just there.. . .and just patiently waiting in the wings. xxviDEDICATION This work is dedicated to the cast, their caregivers and loved ones. xxviiCHAPTER ONE CONCEPTUAL OVERVIEW OF THIS INQUIRY “...then all ofa sudden people came and they sat around the garden and then we were standing by what we hadplanted and then there was a show and it was like nobody realized it until the end and we were like how ‘d that happen? “(TaIIuIah, Interview 6, P. 4). Introduction This report reflects a performative inquiry in Duncan, British Columbia (BC) involving a group of psychiatric survivors, counsellors and me putting on a play entitled Shaken: Not Disturbed.... with a twist! (Shaken). This popular performance depicted the experiences of living within a small town with psychiatric diagnoses. The work began in September 2002 and concluded with performances, including one in a local poultry barn and several at the town’s fringe festival. Twenty adult participants (between the ages of 28 and 62) explored their lives of mental marginality. The men and women participating were: two counsellors, two counselling students, one adult with some theatre background, fourteen adults diagnosed with multiple mental disorder(s) (all from within the local mental health system) and me as a researcher-participant. The adults within this work were embodied learners (see glossary) as well as performers and people searching to be full, participating citizens. Approximately 500 (out of a town population of 4500) attended the four shows. The following report includes theories supporting the work, the research process, occurrences and insights gained. This writing is an interdisciplinary work incorporating theories from critical disability, popular adult education, performative inquiry, absurdism and existentialism. To help the reader, a glossary is provided following the Listing of Tables and before this main text. 1Purposes The purposes of this study were to (i) disrupt “normal” ways of thinking about psychiatric diversity by challenging prevailing notions of mental “illness” and (ii) create better relationships between psychiatrically diagnosed and other people. These purposes were achieved by staging a theatre production in a chicken barn. This study examined the relationship of othering by exploring mental diversity. Specific intentions supported these aims, namely: • revealing the basic capacity for power, expression of identity and need for voice a group of psychiatric survivors embody when performing their lived experience; • humanizing individuals and their experiences relating to living with and being labelled as “mentally disordered”; and • bridging different identity positions through commonality of experience. The Question Keeping in mind the challenges of living in a rural setting and the distorting influence of authorities, mentally marginalized individuals are often seen as “things” to be manipulated by systems, rather than engaged with as part of society. Professionals impose practices into the daily lives of the cast members restricting opportunity and expression. The potential for this study was its anticipated ability to interrupt and question taken-for granted performed privilege. If a group enters a space to explore freely, in a performative manner, its collective meaning from its own perspective, what awareness arises? Could exaggeration, or “farce,” be used to absurdly deconstruct social messages and influences? In turn, could satire be a form of empowerment within an experience of theatre making? The following query is an engagement of these underlying questions and guide this study: 2What shifts occur within a group ofrural adults living with mental disorder(s) as it develops andpresents an absurdist popular theatre community production? So... shifts in what? Three notions emerged through the research: identity, voice, and power. How were each of these notions envisioned within study? How were they shaped as a result of the theatre work? Voice is an aspect of relating to others and a dynamic through which identity emerges. Within this study, the notion of uttering and naming one’s own experience relates to the qualitative performative act of speaking, as envisioned by feminism. Traditionally, voices to be heard have qualities of “authority” and “authenticity.” Often a reason for silence experienced, by some women and men on the edge of society, is they are constructed by others, and at times see themselves, as not possessing influence. Feminists suggest that voices heard typically are male ones: authoritative, power-full, force-full and strong (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger & Tarule, 1997; Estrem, 1997). Within this study, voices in all their diversity found space to speak from the authenticity of lived experience. Identity, historically, was something traditions, family relationships, occupations and stories helped to shape. Often, in the case of psychiatric survivors, these forces are minimized or removed. To replace these absences, often the media, medical authorities and experience shape a mentally diagnosed person’s view of one’s self. Identity is a reflection of how a person is treated by others and is a response to this. Knowing one’s self is inherently found through and within relationships. Power, as it was understood within this work, relied upon the work of Foucault (1980) and his connection of power with knowledge. Broadening the definition, he 3examined both overt and covert dynamics of power. For example, rituals can be considered as overt symbols, which signify power (Bell, 1995). Less considered is that these rites serve additional purposes: ways of creating and maintaining authority. Medical professions and institutions, in particular, mould the lives of psychiatric survivors. Rituals and their relational power are key aspects for the maintenance of the roles of powerful psychiatrist and disempowered patient. Throughout this research, opportunities arose to deepen the understanding of voice, identity and power, in relation to one another. These underwent shifting and reshaping through experiences of intentionally performing. The relative safety of the theatre space provided an opportunity to open up relationships of identity, voice and power. Mental Diversity The World Health Organization (WHO, 1980) has claimed 450 million people are affected by mental, neurological and/or behavioural “problems” at any one time. As of 1990, five of the top ten “burdens” of disability (for established market economies) were psychiatric disorders: uni-polar depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcoholism and obsessive-compulsive disorder. As the world’s entire population continues to age, WHO expects the incidence of mental “disorders” to increase. Canadians living with mental “illnesses” form one-fifth of the country’s population (Statistics Canada, 2002a). Compared to other social issues, mental health has remained one of the most under researched areas. Mentally disordered people, living in rural areas, face challenges; some issues similar to those of their urban counterparts, others unique. First, deep conservatism is 4prevalent in small towns and among farming families. Rural people tend to be cautious because of the immediate effect and unpredictability of nature. Many traditions tied to climate and the land, have existed for generations. These individuals use their customs as a way to forge stability. Prudence, related to nature, has over centuries, translated into social conservatism. Transportation networks remain inadequate or non-existent in rural areas. Many people living with mental disorders are not able to drive. It is for individuals diagnosed with psychiatric disorders to work because many of them do not travel far by themselves. Many are not allowed or able to drive. The predominant employment in the local area is within the low-waged retail and hospitality sectors. These jobs are generally part-time and involve shift work. Many employers stereotype disabled people. Their credentials or work experience becomes suspect as less legitimate than “normal” people’s. Landlords block adults living with mental disorders from stable housing, so that many are forced into transitory housing and homelessness. Shelter is a chronic issue for all mentally disordered individuals; however, greater concentrations of social housing and related services exist in cities. In Duncan, BC, for example, few social housing units exist. Study participants pay the prevailing rents. Due to the relative lack of emergency shelters (currently none exist in Duncan), those without homes sleep outdoors or sojourn among friends’ homes. Accurately understanding the extent and dynamics of homelessness and inadequate housing remains difficult because of “couch surfing,” whereby otherwise homeless individuals “crash” on friends’ floors. Government disability payments are below the poverty line and these rates are under attack (Roman & Salmon, 2003; Zingaro & Tom, 2003). Food banks and soup 5kitchens are more commonly found in cities. Duncan has one food bank expected to service the immediate area of 30,000 (This local food bank has experienced a doubling in those reliant on its services from 2001 to 2004 (Bainas, 2004). Intermittent “soup kitchens” are set up, predominantly around holidays. Pawnshops experience a cyclical pattern of buying and selling. Psychiatric survivors buy possessions from these stores after disability and welfare payments are received and later sell them back in order to stretch money through a particular month. Financial supports for local poor populations are minimal and spotty at best. The Cowichan Valley has one of the highest rates of reliance on the social safety net in BC (Ministry of Labour and Citizens’ Services, 2004). In addition, a large, local First Nations population also is experiencing high levels of poverty. Within cities more and wealthier people donate to charities. In Duncan, the town relies on fewer and relatively poorer people to support non-profit agencies. The town’s volunteer centre had much of its provincial funding cut during the project, severely hampering people in need (Cowichan Citizen, 2004). Authority for managing the dependency of those who are psychiatrically diagnosed rests with professionals who “gate-keep” opportunities that could lead into corporate, government or not-for-sector opportunities. Control of individual cast members understood his/her identity is held by others. The exercise of coercive power marks these relationships and silences the voices of the repressed. Participants said they were commonly told by experts and those with influence that steps taken for their were done “for their own good.” 6Mental Identity Central to the construction of mental identity is the fiction of mental “illness.” To date, no definitive biological causes for mental disorders exist (Szasz, 1994, 2000). Histories documenting mental diagnoses suggest an evolution in the identity of adults living with mental diversity. From ancient times to the Middle Ages, mental “difference” was identified as a sign of divine intervention. Later, in the Middle Ages, “abnormal” people were viewed as “possessed” by demonic spirits (Porter, 1987, 2002). In the early 1 700s, “abnormal” people were viewed as “animal-like.” Not until the I 800s was there contemplation of psychiatric labels. It would be a hundred years after that, that these labels would be theorized as significantly informing and attaching themselves to people’s identities. This evolution transpired with the creation of asylums and emergence of “mad doctors.” Prior to this, “blame” for mental disorder arose through a combination of divine forces and character “flaws.” Through the late 1800s, particularly influenced by Galton’s (1883) eugenic “science” and Freud’s (1986) psychoanalysis, a person’s identity as mentally impaired was constructed by biology instead of divine intervention or weakness of character. With the rise of statistical analysis, the cultural artefacts of “normalization” and “social deviance” came into being. The dynamic of psychiatry drew upon physical medical science for a source of legitimacy. As a result, a biological focus for the determination of “mental deviant” emerged. The biological model defined mental disorders as “personal tragedy” or pitiable identity (Foucault, 1965). Throughout the 1 970s and 1 980s, thousands of asylum and hospital inmates were released for compassionate, but largely financial reasons (Turner, 2004). Moving a 7population, after spending decades in a “protected” environment into another threatening and foreign one without support, put individuals in significant upheaval and turmoil. Now, individuals with mental diagnoses often live non-visibly (By that I mean, despite these individuals living in doorways passers-by choose not to “see” these people). After social liberation struggles led by women, Blacks and sexual minorities during the 1960s through the 1980s, a new struggle emerged: disability rights movements. With this shift arose critical disability theory, discourse and writing. However, much theorizing focussed on physical impairments, disabilities and learning. Psychiatric impairment was subsumed under physical disability and, therefore, silenced. In 1993, in Toronto, Ontario, the first MAD Pride or Psychiatric Survivor Pride Day took place. The million plus Gay Pride Day celebrants in Toronto that year inspired the Mad Festival to take place a few months later. From a small beginning of 200 people in Toronto, by 2005 MAD Pride Day was celebrated on four continents (MindFreedom, 2003). Being reflectively seen by the individual and read as legitimate by others was a more recent occurrence. For many people living with psychiatric impairments, their families, friends, caregivers, social workers, and psychiatrists, in particular, manage and construct their worlds and perceptions of self. Those living with psychiatric impairments face severe repression because of non-conformity to what “sane normates” wish (Garland-Thompson, 1996, 1999, 2002). Ever-increasing numbers of medical and social work professionals reduce a psychiatric survivor’s “being” to the workings of his/her brain. Many authorities deem having a rich interior life irrelevant. To erase unique identity, the universal application of “sick” is now the defining attribute. Labelling of mentally diagnosed 8individuals as “different” or “abnormal,” often leads to pathologized and devalued senses of self. With this deep “lack,” individuals experience low self-esteem and confidence. Furthermore, they do not believe in their ability to live as fully functioning and valued citizens. Today’s critical writers and theorists focus on mental pride, while encourage mentally diagnosed individuals to move beyond survivorship toward full citizenship (Barton & Oliver, 1997; Garland-Thompson, 2003; Shakespeare & Corker, 2002; Shakespeare & Watson, 2001). Recognizing one has merit goes part way toward the goal of full acceptance and inclusion. The missing factor is the ability to vocalize and perform one’s identity within the public realm. Mental Voice There are many Canadians who are told by policies, institutions, laws, rituals, and people that those with mental difference Do notfit Do not belong Have less value. (Noble Notes, p. 93) Disempowered social groups include women, sexual minorities, First Nations, visible ethnic minorities and most disabled people. The participants of this study are a subgroup of the last category: people living with psychiatric diagnoses. Research is done about people living with psychiatric diagnoses. However, scant research exists about these individuals living active roles within the community. To counter this gap, disability theorists increasingly demand a more active voice for those studied (Beresford & Wallcraft, 1997). 9Experiences and histories of “hiddenness” exist within those rendered non-visible. This has blinded society’s awareness of the identities of psychiatric survivors.’ Like the “sexual closet,” the “mental closet” has emerged because of individuals’ reaction to becoming known as “stigmatized others.” Like the “sexual closet,” walls of social stigma are reinforced by self-imposed shame. Speaking out often creates an expectation of stigma. Rather than face ridicule and shame, many people prefer to remain silent believing the closet is a “safer” place. Those surviving psychiatric care have largely had to struggle alone. However, since the late 1 970s, organized groups living with disabilities have given voice to their histories, stories and futures. One of the most important spaces has been within the arts — notably theatre. Most of these artistic efforts rested with theatre companies that were working within disabilities or targeting physical or learning arid developmental impairments. Until the late 1 980s and early 1 990s, no theatre company had dedicated itself to psychiatric impairments. Today these companies include: since 1987, Toronto’s Workman Theatre Project (2005) and since 2004, Ottawa’s Stigma Busters (2005) Productions. The most recent addition to the MAD Pride Celebration is the Mad Pride International Theatre Festival (MindFreedom, 2003). The celebration is run by an international coalition of mental survivor organizations. From celebration of one’s “mental pride” comes a moment to develop research investigating diverse lives of mental minorities. This thesis reflects a continuation of recent initiatives. The group coming together for this study inadvertently became part of a much larger gathering voice speaking out about its own stories of oppression. MindFreedom’s 10(2003) mission statement maintained: psychiatric survivors want to help themselves by helping disempowered others through larger coalition systems... In a spirit of mutual cooperation, MindFreedom leads a non-violent revolution offreedom, equality, truth and human rights that unites people affected by the mental health system with movements for justice everywhere (p. 1). Shaken: Not Disturbed... with a twist! marked a small episode of finding voice within a mainstream filled with vested interests. Like many disempowered groups, psychiatric survivors work together to develop the confidence to speak with others. Mad/Mental Pride By coming together and exploring their lives, psychiatric survivors can find ways to be heard. A sense of personal and group power unfamiliar to them evolves through this emerging identity and rising voices. This newfound autonomy can then create uncertainty and sows seeds of disempowerment for fear of disturbing mainstream relations. The cast of this study decided to meet this challenge by performing publicly. This group’s transgression, “coming out” of the “mental closet,” was more profound because it chose to speak directly against authorities: psychiatrists, social workers, family members and the general public. These people have the power to commit, decree (ab)normalcy, withhold care and support and enforce drug taking. This cast pushed against the status quo using its lived stories. Through re-enactments of their moments of social exclusion, stigmatization, and oppression for being “different,” the cast’s message was simple: The stigma had to end. The play’s lessons deconstructed the mainstream’s values about people with mental diagnoses. The group’s embodied stories carried its own authority. 11Speaking from a place, formerly of silence, renders a voice a blaring trumpet. The cast’s message was powerful. The individuals in this study were survivors. Within the disability movement, survivor is the preferred term. To survive means to live beyond. . .but to outlive or live outside what? A barrier? The handicap is the attitude ofa persistently ableist society. Rural Life Thirty percent of the Canadian population and 15% of British Columbia’s (Statistics Canada, 2001, 2002b) live outside urban and suburban settings. Despite this, much social theory remains within an urban bias. When researchers rely on conceptions contrived within “the metropolis” as common sense across all experiential settings, imagines country and city environments as interchangeable. Urban messages that can confront rural sensibilities include: “(hu)man over environment,” money as a measure of success, progress at all costs and abstract thinking over traditional practice. The importance of focussing on rural environments and perspectives on theory is significant for broadening notions of “community” and “society.” Today, rural areas still have a largely intact social fabric (Carter, 1999). Their compactness can magnify the effects of events. As a result of our theatre group’s play development and performance in Duncan, BC, wanted to talk to the cast members frequently about our work. From these conversations came new opportunities to inform their work on the play. Through the intimately interconnected nature of the small town, many opportunities for dialogue and expanding relationships occurred. Unlike the anonymous hiding away of individuals in larger urban centres, the population of a rural town knows one another. Because of close 12relationships, change within a country setting can be challenging, yet it generates responses quickly. Outsiders are often not welcomed, so cultural workers coming to “fix” local issues are not generally well received. In times of strife, a rural population often pulls together in quintessentially human ways (Fellegi, 1996; Miller, 2001). A strong sense of home, belonging, interconnectedness and reciprocity among neighbours exist: these values buoy periods of trouble. This ethic of care occurs in cities as well. The difference is that in the country, friends, neighbours or family members are likely to be tending to one another, whereas in the city often it’s strangers helping strangers. Emotional distance is more likely to be much shorter, more intimate and strongly felt within a rural setting. The rationale for working there, in a more rural setting, was to illustrate how a country environment influenced and informed experience. Like much in this research, the locale was hidden within unimagined margins. Focussing on the rural environment and the effects of country thinking on theory were keys to broadening and deepening the ideas of “community” and “society.” Transitions Historically, an important reason for supporting farmers and rural people was populating the large expanses of Canada. Within the past 15 years, rural regions have experienced major social, economic and political transformations. For decades, Canada’s countryside relied on government subsidies and other financial supports to moderate the unpredictability of farming (Boyens, 2001). However, within the last decade, driven largely by international trade agreements, financial supports to farmers were declared 13unfair. As a result, payments were dramatically reduced. Canada leads the way in these reductions (Boyens, 2001). Simultaneously, as resource sectors experienced bankruptcies and foreign competition, price shocks and labour disruptions followed. This economic turmoil affected small towns dramatically as they were built to service the stable workforces in the resource sectors. Depleted fish stocks, lumber tariff wars, incursion of the mountain pine beetle, forest fires, Mad Cow disease, Avian flu, closed mines: these were some of the reduced economic and social supports for rural areas. Local populations continue to struggle to survive. New Country Small towns are now wired into a global marketplace. New influences creep into the countryside. Minimum-waged, low-skilled retail and tourism positions flourish, instead of old high paying resource sector jobs. For farmers and migrant workers, intermittent, minimal and constantly tightening government support is all that is available. Global forces prey on local markets. Niche marketing, “just in time” service delivery and multi- use products are the norm (Drabenstott, 2004). The local valley is now a global market brand. The region’s logo is meant to be synonymous with its rural products and “agri tourism” destination specializing in culinary tours and farm vacations. Increasing reliance on the Internet marks the need for creating “experiences,” services and products. With diminishing populations in rural areas, small towns once needed to service agriculture are dying. Unlike elsewhere in British Columbia, no ghost towns exist in the Cowichan Valley because mountains and hilly terrain keep farming ventures small. These 14“boutique” farms specialize in rare herbs, emus, bison and alpaca. Local wineries and cideries offer culinary tours, lodging at farms, sightseeing at local farmers’ markets and dining. While all seems well in the region, some significant challenges have emerged. Crystal meth is entering Cowichan schools. Break-and-enters and high levels of vandalism are due to increased drug addiction. Tugs of war abound between new and entrenched ideas. The local valley’s population is split between those with progressive ideas, represented by recent arrivals and those with more entrenched conservative from deep roots of local tradition. Tension tears at the social and economic structures and resources. A way for those spoken about needs to be found so their needs, ideas and desires can be expressed. Lost in the struggles are the experiences of psychiatric survivors. Methodology: Performative Inquiry A method of expressing identity and experience, through “voice,” that would fit a rural setting had to be found. The research approach relied on was performative inquiry (Fels, 2003, 1999, 1998). According to the systems-oriented work of Varela and Shear (2000), Varela, Thompson and Rosch (1992) and Maturana (1988) and enactivists Sumara and Davis (1997a, 1997b), performative inquiry focuses on the body-mind (Hocking, Haskell & Linds, 2001) connection within the process of generating new awareness. Through spontaneity, as found within random and intentional play, knowledge is in the inter(re)acting of bodies. “Interstandings” are those insights emerging through relationships (Fels, 1998; Hocking, Haskell & Linds, 2001; Taylor & Saarinnen, 1994). To generate embodied consciousness, individuals are in motion: creating, performing, 15being, doing, becoming. I add playing. Complexities are embedded in each of these actions, especially when each person engages interactively and holistically with another complete individuals. Interpretation occurred. Within performative inquiry, it is expression and interpretation that inform acts. This research process relied on play as acts of knowledge. Performative methodology lives with ambiguity. The result of individuals’ daily interactions is often not readily available in articulate thought. What is stored, hidden in bodies, is teased out through motion and the expression of emotion. Within the complexity of living bodies remains a degree of uncertainty and randomness. Further, complexity is added when the number of interacting human beings is increased. A heightened sense of risk opens up the need for a broadening of the flow of power among the embodied learners. Taking “leaps of faith,” which is not what I expected, requires fostering an environment of exchange, collaboration and risk (Sumara & Davis, 1 997a). A process of knowledge and shared insights emerged through the group’s performative explorations. Transformations created interactivity and involvement among cast members. As Fels (2003) explains, If we imagine imagination as cognitive action-interaction, a birthing and rebirthing simultaneously withinform and the destruction ofform, then we find ourselves in an unexpected space between structure and chaos — a space which complexity theorists call the ‘edge ofchaos ‘... (p. 234) As embodied explorations deepen, sporadic and seemingly disconnected “turnings” or “aha” instances emerge as “moments of recognition” (Fels, 2003, p. 235). During these moments, insights are sparked. At times, the value or recognition of the insight is not clear until further reflection. A pathway of experience is traced through discrete clarifring moments of “aha” or “recognition.” These turning points are moments 16for gathering clues leading to further options for exploration. Rather than narrow to an answer, performative inquiry continues to open options for new awareness. As can be seen already, a few bits of performative inquiry exist in this writing.. .with the use of active and performative prose. In order to capture the unexpected moments within performative inquiry P1 ngu there are twinklings of instances that are recreated among these pages to give you a sense of those insights as though they occurred for the first time. These “moments of recognition” are shown in both italics and word placement on the page, in order to facilitate reading and thinking in more engaging ways. Through playing with words and space in a play-full way at key spots, the normative reading of the page gives way to unpredictability, which is what occurs in an embodied way within performative inquiry. One’s imagination is critical within this work. And as the cast found out, so is the ability for playful spontaneity. Knowledge shifts to being a verb, not a noun (Fels, 1998, p. 30), and an act of conjuring awareness among individuals. Learning by doing, through performing, allows knowledge arising between bodies to inform past practice, while enabling rehearsals for future action. Adult Education Every social action group should at the same time be an adult education group, and I go even as far as to believe that all successful adult education groups sooner or later become social action groups (Lindeman, 1945, p. 5). Lindeman’ s (1929) view of education falls outside formal instruction within institutions. Many later popular educators resonated with what he wrote. As one of the earliest adult 17educators at the turn of the twentieth century, Lindeman imagined adult education as being life. All of living is a constant sense of learning and understanding. Individuals cannot stop the act of “taking in.” He saw adult education as being non-vocational in nature. Nor is it driven by subjects, but by situations. Because of this latter point, adult education’s chief resource is experiences. Education is life; life is education. Twenty-four years later Knowles (1950) wrote about informal adult education as informed by Lindeman’s earlier theorizing. Knowles examined informal adult learning. He believed adults needed to fully understand themselves. At the same time they needed to accept and respect who they were as individuals and their daily adult roles. To be mature, people needed to develop an attitude of acceptance, respect and love towards others. Many diverse people inhabit this world. If individuals cannot empathize with dissimilar beliefs or approaches to living, then a lessened ability to truly take in the complexities of the social world occurs. A constant in living and life is change. In adult education, curiosity and what I call “first learning” (as in seeing something in awe for the first time) is a requirement. Rather than be satisfied with seeing symptoms, society needs to understand causes within social relations. Individuals need to dig deeply beneath the surface of interactions to get at the impulses behind actions. This excavating is a key strength of performative inquiry. During the late 1 960s to early 1 980s, popular and critical educators wrote prolifically in order to highlight schooling’s “neutrality.” Freire (1970), most central of all, spoke of cultures of silence, cultural circles and teaching with an aspect of love and hope. Like Lindeman (1945, 1929) and Knowles (1950, 1980), Freire wrote about informal adult education (1970, 1985, 1997). This radical and anti-oppression educator’s 18purpose was to liberate disempowered people through more balanced power within participantlfacilitator relationships. While learners’ situations were studied, they identified their own needs. Other aspects of Freirian consciousness-raising education include group participation in the planning process, addressing social action and recognizing the community where learning occurred. Isolated from daily routines, a ritualistic separated space is entered into for engaging in popular adult education. The Freirian cultural circle is an example. Generative thematic work carried out in these spaces explores the surface of social life to awaken a critical consciousness. Freire (1973) focused on praxis, or reflective action. This practice, guided by reflection, brought about through raised awareness for one’s improved life circumstances and potential. For centuries, part of theatre’s focus, particularly folk dramas and popular theatre was to lay bare social power and interests being played out within society. A number of critical educational writers continue to tease apart sociological understandings relating to social and economic inequities. For example, Illich (1973) was critical of the institution of schooling as noted by the following: institutionalization of learning and the need for conviviality, which is the “autonomous and creative intercourse amongpersons and the intercourse ofpersons with their environment” (p. 24). Today, 30 years later, performative inquiry re-envisions these concepts. The impulses of other critical educationalists, including Shor (1987, 1992, 1996,), McLaren (1995, 1999), Giroux (1997, 2001), hooks (1994) and Apple (1999), resonate with the view of adult education taken within this performative research. 19Popular Theatre Within this inquiry, the practice of popular theatre and the symbolism of absurdism were included to deconstruct taken-for-granted community beliefs, values and elite power, particularly relating to the experiences of psychiatric survivors. Satire played, ironically, within lives lived through mental diversity and disorder. By reversing the traditional research relationship of the social centre examining marginalized circumstances, non- visible distortions in taken-for-granted relationships were revealed. The study’s co searchers found the process of critiquing the mainstream a source of strength to form and deepen group and individual identities. Marginalization, based on psychiatric diagnosis, has historically constructed an opposition to prevailing notions of “normal” sanity. “Madness” and “sanity” created oppositional versions of the other. Mental norms are products of demographic and experiential backgrounds and beliefs of prevailing social, economic, legal and medical powers. Drawing on popular theatre, this production placed embodied learning among the people. In popular education’s fashion, explorations of disempowerment and oppression were carried out by the people and for the masses (Filewod, 1987, 1989; Kidd, 1980; Selman, 1987; Spry, 1994). Rather than focussing on an end product, this process of popular theatre raised critical social awareness through theatre making, (Prentki & Selman, 2000). Within this study, the cast sought an increased engagement with and enactive form of citizenship. Popular theatre, and its attachment to oppressed people, lent itself well to a group of psychiatric survivors, as they had lived through regimes of categorizing, measuring, closeting, controlling, reducing and erasing humanness. Bodies 20and selves are reconnected through performance. Moreover, co-searchers can learn to communicate and make sense with and through relationships. Part of the process of popular theatre is the performing of group discoveries to communities (Bappa & Etherton, 1983; Selman, 1987) to deepen the process of learning for the cast. At the same time the cast educates others about marginalized lives. Frequently, popular theatre draws on an ethic of poverty (Grotowski, 1968). The concept of “poor” does not mean impoverishment of aesthetics, ideas or lived experience, but a lack of extravagant production elements for performances. Elaborate theatre staging is thought to limit the imagination, rather than free it. Limited numbers of props, sets and costumes are relied on in symbolic ways. Meaning emerges through relationships of a few objects and people on stage. For this reason, popular theatre relies on the audience’s and cast’s imaginations for the negotiation of meaning. This type of theatrical experience is drawn from the stories, experiences, awareness and insights from “the people” as the cast represents (Kershaw, 1992). A bsurdism The roots of absurdist forms stem from Dadaism and surrealism. However, notions supporting disharmony stray further back to Kierkegaard’s (Malantschuk, Hong & Hong, 2003) ideas of living aesthetically or of living ethically. Essentially, this means that living according to duty inevitably results in the compromise of one’s “true” self and so is ultimately meaningless. Sartre (1946, 1948, 1976) and Camus (1955) support much of what absurdism tried to make concrete. Existentialist thinkers suggest humans have free will. Daily living involves choices. Making decisions creates stress. Each time individuals choose, negative consequences occur. Sometimes these are known, but often 21they are hidden. Not everything encountered in our lives can be explained. Rather, they appear absurd or off-kilter. When an individual makes a decision, he or she must carry out what is decided in order to work toward living authentically. Because humans, often, do not follow these decisions, once made, lives often end up lived in bad faith or inauthentically. Living is ultimately without meaning and, so, absurd. Postmodernism and its hyper-reality serve to make life decisions more frenetic and out of control and, potentially, more meaningless. Artaud (1970), a key impulse for absurdism’s evolution, spent much of his life in asylums. However, it was Esslin (1961) who coined the term “theatre of the absurd.” He did this to “lump” together disparate artists (playwrights, actors, directors). These people rarely collaborated, socialized or interacted. Absurdism is included within this study because of its ability to make assumptions held by mainstream authorities visible. In turn, performative inquiry and popular theatre can play with and open these presuppositions further. Absurdism is a deconstructive reading of a seemingly pointless world from the vantage point of outsiders looking in. However, it is within chaos that order is found. Absurdism, like performative inquiry, lives on the border between order and mayhem; it “violently” (Artaud, 1970) pokes fun in a “carnivalesque” fashion (Bakhtin, 1984). Disharmonic theatre forms include an anti-realistic aesthetic filled with harsh sounds, darkness, music and no overriding plot. Snippets of life are strung together in apparent randomness. “Meanings” are left to the audience. Everything holds potential significance: from the location and structure of the building, to the space, the action and other audience members. Nothing in the performance suggests a specific place, time or space to contextualize the action. To heighten the sense of mundane awareness, much of 22the action is ritualized and repetitive; there is a sense of being is locked in with no escaping. Black humour, or the dissonance between action and topic, creates tension as the bleakness topic is exaggerated to evoke laughter. As a result, the subject matter remains depressingly stark. All of this fits comfortably with lives trapped by the mental health system. Procedures From the theory briefly described in the previous pages, a set of procedures unfolded while carrying out this research. The “trapped” quality of living with mental diagnoses can lead to lives filled with cycles of unending negativity and oppression. How can this group of co-searchers “open” these repetitions to inform their senses of self? During nine months, the cast met once a week for approximately two and a half hours. The time was split three ways. During the first half hour, members mutually checked in with one another (including me) and engaged in movement exercises (including yoga and/or dance). The middle period, approximately 90 minutes, involved playing theatre games, learning about theatre, or creating performance pieces for a show. The closing moments of each session were spent “cooling down.” This involved guided meditation and reflective thoughts. The period leading up to the performance was split into roughly equal thirds. The first three months developed a cohesive group by playing theatre games and engaging in exercises. The second period blended playing with learning about theatre and elements of performance. The last period involved creation of performance elements and a public production in May 2003. The work was remounted in September of the same year for the local fringe festival. 23Throughout the time spent with the group, research activities within this performative inquiry included writing reflective field notes after each session. Occasional pictures were taken at rehearsals (Figures 1 and 2). Two sets of interviews with individual cast members were completed at the beginning and end of the process. Audience members were interviewed shortly after the first show. Videotapes of the main show and fringe production were made. Recording rehearsals, interviews, performances, casual conversations and taking field notes captured experiences as they unfolded. Themes emerged within the performative inquiry as they related to the three key elements under study: identity, voice and power. These notions slowly appeared through role playing, dancing, telling stories and slowly crafting together pieces of experiences shared by the co-searchers. Connections among these three aspects of agency came forth in the following way. As members felt more comfortable speaking and showing their memories, their interactions grew stronger and more certain. As talking became more confident, their sense of self stood taller and more self-assured. By the time the show, Shaken: Not Disturbed... with a twist! was mounted the third element appeared on stage: a collective and individual sense of autonomy or power. Within Chapters 5-7, each of these concepts are discussed in Figure 1: The cast rehearsing in the gym. Figure 2: The cast rehearsing in the barn. 24relation to key locations within the inquiry, starting with cast members’ awareness, to audience perceptions, to my own understanding, respectively. The Researcher-Participant Within each person there are tensions between aspects of identity that can be read by observers. What is often taken in is a public image, but what is usually not understood are hidden aspects of a person stowed away in the physical body and memories, or the private self. What happens if there are private markers that can be read but are ignored or devalued? This dynamic drew me into this research: the struggle of tensions that is visible, yet but remains unnoticed. My life has carried a number of “identity tensions” informing my view of experience. I described these sources of unease by comparing the public’s understanding of my selves versus my personal understandings of me. The differences between the two are described as tensions. Publicly, I am considered to be an urban, educated, straight, middle-class, White, western Canadian male — what I would describe as mainstream. However, my life contains experiences of living as a rural, gay, poor, Jamaican/Irish, educated, eastern Canadian male. This superficial manufacturing is similar to the construction of identities relating to mental disorder. The “illness” diagnosis becomes the “master” identity because the markers of difference lying on the surface (clothes, physical appearance, behaviours) are easier to “read” than the underlying complexities of making one’s thoughts, feelings and stories visible. The non-visible aspects of identity and their roles in creating difference are a particular research focus for me. In the practice of living, I am less anchored to one fixed notion of self. Instead, I am constantly negotiating among various dimensions contained within my public versus private senses 25of self; I am left wandering among the frontiers of difference. Admittance into the mainstream is largely foreclosed; therefore, much of what is studied takes place within the margins. I wrote extensively about my liminal position during my master’s research. To help frame the work, my personal philosophies and approach are important and elaborated. My perspectives are shaped by circumstance and ability to incorporate experience with what is brought forward through my history. As with most educators, I prefer to teach the way I feel I learn best. Space is important; the environment is one of heightened flexibility, spontaneity, comfort and openness. This is why I, as often as I am able, find myself working within community settings, away from formal institutions. Where individuals work and play is a critical element in the ritual of learning. Education is a rite of passage, containing relationships of teaching, learning and interactions of change. This study included significant transitions as co-searchers looked to themselves and each other to create a deeper awareness of their place in society, starting with how the cast operated. Everyone in this cast negotiated decisions and the creation of the learning atmosphere in an effort to share the power within the group. Throughout the early part of the inquiry, this opening up of power dynamics by the participants was a constant “push-of-war.” Participants were deflecting authority and decision-making to me. I would turn the reaction back. By the end of our time together, the group was more comfortable making decisions affecting both themselves and the larger group. I am in the research. Popular theatre, adult education and performative inquiry anticipate this. What is presented is a reflection of the writer in conjunction with those reflected. Bodies and their performances come together to construct the “data.” Other 26voices are implied, even though my voice as the writer is the most apparent among these pages: vocalizing dancing singing talking creating being becoming playing Overview of the Dissertation In Chapter One, I stated the problem was mental “difference’s” construction through prevailing mainstream notions of psychiatric disability. The manufacturing of social margins, as illustrated through a cast of psychiatrically diagnosed individuals and its stories, connects to the main purpose of this research: (i) disrupt “normal” ways of thinking about psychiatric diversity by challenging prevailing notions of mental “illness” and (ii) create better relationships between psychiatrically diagnosed and other people Intentions supporting this aim include: • revealing of the basic capacity for power, expression of identity and need for voice a group of psychiatric survivors embody when performing their lived experience; • humanizing individuals and their experiences relating to living with and being labelled as “mentally disordered”; and • bridging different identity positions through commonality of experience. Bringing the problem, purpose and intention together, the following question began the inquiry: What shtfts occur within a group ofrural adults living with mental disorder(s) as it develops andpresents an absurdistpopular theatre community production? The methodological framing of the study is discussed in Chapter Two. The broad frame of radical humanism is described. The link with critical popular adult education 27and Freire is highlighted. The process carried out within this study was a performative inquiry (Fels, 1998). The techniques of popular theatre were employed and absurdist theatre forms were incorporated. Chapter Three outlines the procedures that were taken within the study, namely, describing how participants or co-searchers joined the study, the steps taken to carry out the research and the means through which “analysis” or reflective interpretations emerged. Chapter Four delves more deeply into concrete practice by describing particular incidents. Experiences of the presentation and post-production follow within the three chapters proceeding from this one. Following the popular theatre process undertaken, the “interstandings” within two groups are described: the cast and the audience. Chapter Five concentrates on what members comprehended from the experience. Rather than the more traditional qualitative thematic discussions found in ethnographies, the performative inquiry lens seeks out critical “moments of recognition” arising from embodied (inter)actions. Aspects of new understanding included evolving cast members’ notions of identity, voice and power. Chapter Six investigates the audience’s reactions to the play. Like the previous chapter, this one looks at power, identity and voice from the spectators’ perceptions of the cast. Also, the audience’s shift in awareness regarding individuals living with mental disorder is examined. This chapter helps to create a counterpoint to the cast members’ “insider” status by hearing from the community’s “outsider” position. Chapter Seven serves to create some level of bridging between the two. This second to last chapter is of my own reflection as the bridge between someone “inside” a 28group of adults living with disorder and as an “outsider” from within the broader community. Chapter Eight examines the significance of this study. This moves the discussion from the current research into missed or lost strands I will investigate in the future. Summary This chapter provided the background for this research including the central “problem” and concepts this dissertation relied on. Guiding the reader into this research, the chapter opens with a concise description of what this study involved: a group of psychiatric survivors creating a play about their experiences of living within social “difference.” From here, the study’s purposes and intentions were described, leading to the guiding research question. To provide a quick landscaping of the research, the theoretical scaffolding of mental/disability theory, rural sociology and the interdisciplinary methodology of performative inquiry were outlined. Much greater detailed discussions centred on critical disability and rural sociology can be found in the appendices with the former in Appendix B and the latter in Appendix C. My social location, as rural gay researcher and a brief overview of my philosophy of education were introduced to provide some framing of this dissertation. And lastly, an overview of the flow of chapters was provided. The next chapter recounts the evolution of how psychiatric survivors have been constructed historically through to the present. 29CHAPTER TWO PERFORMING INQUIRIES OF (IN)SANITY “ I exist in the world and with the world, the reading ofmy body, as well as that ofother bodies, implies the reading ofspace” (Freire, 1997, p. 52) Introduction In the previous chapter, the context and theories supporting this study were reviewed. The current chapter examines the interdisciplinary methodology used within the research. Radical humanism is the broad conceptual framing within which this study resides. The focus of this research is to transform oppressive relationships into something more empowering as viewed by people, themselves. Popular adult education is the field this exploration took place in. Education is a tool by which learners can critically examine how power is implicated within the processes of freeing or limiting life opportunities for a particular group. Performative inquiry is the methodology. This question-driven inquiry allows for individuals to start with a large question and slowly, through performative actions, open the initial query into smaller controversies that lead into more novel and hidden connections. Through exploration, a greater sense of awareness arises through probing unfolding questions as they emerge. The methodology remains open for further queries. The method for this study was a blending of the processes of popular theatre and forms from theatre of the absurd. Theatre exercises and games allowed for chaos, ambiguity and serendipity to be fostered so novel insights and connections were conjured through playing, doing and creating. Absurdist forms and themes including “dark humour” (whereby serious and negative experiences are portrayed in ways that evoke laughter), circularity, unending aimlessness, routine, exaggeration, and contradictory relationships (that render invisible power relationships visible) were all used in the play 30that unfolded through this process. Performativity and reflective observation link, conceptually, the disparate pieces together into a more complete story. The results of the methodology are discussed in Chapters 5 to 7. To start, popular adult education is presented as the first piece of the picture (Figure 3) created throughout this chapter. Figure 3: Theoretical relationships incorporated within the study Radical Humanism Mapping of educational and social change theories, carried out by Paulston (1996), created a broader view of how educational theory and philosophies connect together in relation to one another (Figure 4, on page 33). The horizontal line in the diagram marks a continuum of ontology or how theories view “reality.” The right side relates to those views that suggest there is an outside, knowable, detached sense of social functioning, whereas the left side suggests that each individual constructs or makes sense of society in his or her own, unique subjective way. The vertical line marks power relationships within RADICAL / / \ HUMANISMI Absurdist Structures \ \ : \ I: : Popular Theatre Process \ Performativity \ ‘1 I I I I IfI - - LI: EEE Rural Sociology, Cntical Disability Theory : Constructions of Psychiatric Disorders as Context (I 31society and how they are used. The topmost point views the focus as being social transformation, whereas the bottom-most point is interested in the maintenance of a status quo. Briefly, each quadrant takes a different view of the world and what education sets out to achieve. Functionalism establishes what “must be,” or education sits within a sense of objective realities and power that maintains equilibrium of current social and power relations. The humanist also resides within a sense of status quo in that the aim is one of “being.” The difference between the functionalist quadrant and this one is the humanist views the world as not “out there,” but is constructed through the subjective interpretations and viewpoint of each individual. There is no threat to wanting to change the current structure or relationships found within society. The next two quadrants are not interested in maintaining status quo, but of social change. The radical functionalist views society as being objectively “out there” and is interested in changing the structures because of inequities and contradictions found within social systems. The last quadrant, radical humanism, is where this study resides. “Realities” of the social world are rooted in where each individual lives within society. Knowledge is shared and found within interactions. The focus within this last quadrant is to change social relationships that are found to be oppressive and unequal with regard to power. Transformation, emancipation or freedom, and critical analysis involving the subjugation of individuals or groups are the project of educators with this view. The current research sits comfortably within the radical humanist (Figure 4) sense because of its focus on investigating how individuals and this group, from their subjective vantage point as psychiatric survivors, understand their experiences. Once “coded” in a 32subjective way, the shift is on changing the nature of the relationships in which these individuals find themselves. The transformations that occur are done from the viewpoint of the participants, rather than the researcher. Amendments to social relationships are subjective. By comparison, key relationships experienced by psychiatrically diagnosed Figure 4: A map of social change and education theory and philosophy into four broad approaches and the relationship among them. (Paulston, 1996) individuals, namely the medical ones, run diametrically opposite to the aim of this research. Doctors tend to be within the functionalist paradigm, whereby medical science of bodies is something outside individuals and their focus is on “fixing” or bringing health back to a status quo. VIEW OF SOCIETY CHANGE Focus on relationships and changing heir nature to transform how self eality” K4DI(!L STR( ( ‘Tt R1LIST Focus on structures and changing structures to chanic real 1\” Draws upon Nco—Marxist theor\ SUBJECTIVITY “Will Be” OBJECTIVE “REALITY” HL\/4VIST ReaIit” as constructed b self Uses ethnourapll\ plienomenolou Fl V(7IVILLS’T “Reaht\” s “outside. fixed. and tanufible “Be-ing” VIEW OF STATUS QUO “Must Be” 33Popular Adult Education Increasingly, structured and negotiated adult education is taking place within educational environments. Briefly, in North America, much adult education began outside formal institutions. In the United States, during the early to mid twentieth century, both Lindeman (1929) and Knowles (1980) began their work in the “community” institution of the YMCA. Similar to Lindemann, other adult educators, like Cameron and Corbett in Canada drew on the thinking of Grundtvig and his conception of Danish folk high schools and Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy (Leighton & Leighton, 1982). In Canada, at the turn of the twentieth century, and through the 1 960s, the focus was on rural education, Canada’s country population and building a nation. Notable adult education initiatives included Moses Coady and Father Tompkins’ work in creating the Antigonish Movement (Alexander, 1997), the Banff School, Farmers’ Radio Forum, Women’s Institutes and Frontier College. In the United States, the focus was on social justice and broadening democracy. Adult education entered its “golden era” from the I 960s until the early I 980s when a number of adult educators and educationalists offered a variety of views about the role, form and process of educating adults. While many adult educators of the time operated within the non-formal arenas of adult education, Freire’s and Boal’s focus was on popular education. Their work situates my project. I draw on the writings of these education theorists, in part, in order to dovetail with the framework and focus of performative inquiry. These popular educators were participatory and non-formal, 34placing themselves among the people to co-create grassroots access to educational experiences. Andragogy Drawing from the writings of Knowles (1950, 1989), Table 1 synthesizes the assumptions of andragogy in relation to the general approach taken within this study. The experience of cast members within the development of performance, rather than on the resulting production, was the research focus. Merriam and Brockett’s (1996) definition of adult education guides this study: Activities intentionally designed for the purpose of bringing about learning among those whose age, social roles, or self-perception define them as adults. (p. 8) This project resides in the realm of andragogy (See Table I on p. 36). Adult teaching and learning focus more on process than on content. Even though Knowles (1980) popularized a specialized theory for teaching adults, Alexander Kapp coined the term “andragogy” in 1833. He had, in turn, drawn from aspects of Plato’s learning theory (Nottingham Andragogy Group, 1983). Adult education and performative inquiry’s goals coexist comfortably. (See Table 1) Within the broad definition of adult education, a number of terms connected to the project of teaching include formal, informal and non- formal knowledge. A continuum illustrating the co-existence of a range of educational structures is shown that relies on Rogers (2003). This research is located somewhere close (Figure 5, marked by X) to Participatory Education: Set Structure Negotiated Structure No Structure . . .x . Formal Non-Formal Participatory Informal Education Education Education Learning Figure 5: A continuum of structure in adult education 35Table 1 A Comparison of Knowles’ Andragogy to the Current Research. KNOWLES’ ASSUMPTIONS IN EVIDENCE FROM WITHIN ANDRAGOGY SHAKEN NOT DISTURBED As adults mature they move from a Cast members were living in dependent dependent to independent personality circumstances because of the influence of medical and social work authorities, yet all of them lived independently within the town. As a person matures a greater accumulation The accumulation of lived experience was of experience is realized being a rich source evident as the group explored various issues of for further learning living with a psychiatric label. An added dimension was everyday life experience felt more deeply than would be expected, i.e., small talk is supported by pronounced levels of animation, or being told to do something rather than being asked generates feelings of anger. Maturity fosters an increasing desire to focus Within Shaken and the exploration of lives, the learning on the development of social roles. focus was on understanding how roles are “read” and changed of others influential in their lives. As a person matures, the role of time shifts There was no content per se provided to cast to learning tasks for immediate application members. Process drove the learning and was the so the focus also changes away from content- outcome, in particular popular theatre and the driven, to process-centred frame of performative inquiry. As a person matures the motivation to learn This became evident when interviewing cast becomes internalized, members at the end of the project, when individuals shared their understanding of shifts in their self-concept. PRiNCIPLES OF ANDRAGOGY EVIDENCE FROM WITHIN SHAKEN NOTDISTURBED Adults need to be involved in the planning While the initial planning did not have a and evaluation, particular group in mind, when decisions were made the group shared in them. Notably at the beginning, the group drove the decision to find a new meeting place and time. They also had final say on whether the poultry barn worked for the performance. Experience is the basis for learning. Theatre is experience-based and process-based and it’s from this, learning occurred. Relevance to everyday living. The context of each cast member’s life was placed centrally in the explorations and learning occurring within each weekly meeting. Problem centred. A central problem the cast faced was the cycle of unemployment being common among psychiatric survivors. This was transformed into a cycle of forum theatre. This process has, at its heart, problem-posing performance engaging an audience. 36Formal education occurs within a relatively fixed structure where the group is considered unchanging, even though individuals within it may come and go. Negotiated structures are affected by the comings and goings of participants because group energies shift according to personalities present. As members change, dynamics become renegotiated ensuring a cohesive group. Non-formal education, as portrayed in Figure 5, includes structured educational projects falling outside of institutional arrangements. Non-formal “schools” fit here. They are more egalitarian and have a temporary, casual approach to education. Participatory education is much more than that affected by individual group membership and, often, process can be more important than the content of what is taught. Table 2 illustrates how each complements the other. Table 2 Why Do Adult Education and Performative Inquiry Co-exist Well? ADUE .T EDUCATION PERFORMATI VE INQUIRY Shared Phmning and Evaluation The group determines hai will be explored and how. Experiential Learning Embodied performance and interacting with others is the basis for experiential learning. Everyday Life Everyday issues and problems the group is interested in are explored. Problem Centred The process of performative inquiry is about problems and the generation of deeper questions, rather than complete and whole answers. Working in a group develops group roles within it and from there these can become transferred into the broader lives and social Social Roles roles. Internalized Learning Actions and interactions taken within performative inquiry are reflective of internalized learning. Reflections and thought guide a person’s behaviour. 37Much community education and development work sits within the position of participatory education on the continuum. The current arts-based educational project resides within participatory education and informal learning of the adult education. The early definition of informal education described learning as being wholly constructed and negotiated by the individual. The person’s lifelong learning project is the focus of the research. By splitting “informal” into participatory education and informal learning, the slipperiness of the term “informal education” can be reduced (Rogers, 2003). Popular Education Freire (1970) suggested breaking down dynamics of oppression by opening up space to make things more visible (Figure 6). By facing one’s location within society and Secondary Research on Mental Disorder f Evaluation and Final Thesis ONE Figure 6: A diagram of Freire’s culture circle 38recognizing the invisible forces locking out-groups in place as powerless, Freire envisioned “cultural circles.” These spaces were where oppressed groups worked outside the pull of prevailing norms (Freire & Faundez, 1989). Within these constructed openings, while remaining in the affected community, a cycle of community learning and social awareness is embraced. Through being taught concepts, experience-based meanings behind ideas help illustrate freedom’s reduction, removal or rejection. Within this current project, theatre training replaces Freire’s literacy focus. The group engaged in systematically creating codifications and decodJIcations. Through their performative explorations and creations, the co-searchers explored topics of oppression, describing, naming and deconstructing barriers to living more freely. This dynamic resonates with performative inquiry’s praxis that “through form and simultaneously the destruction of form” emerges creative action (Fels, 1998). In other words, through systems and patterns in living and the changing (which involves destruction of these pre-existing arrangements) these as new awareness arises, imaginative new potentials for being unfold. Issues relate to people’s lives in the community (Freire, 1970, 1997). A key to the entry into this learning space is the willingness to engage in an improvisational practice. As each process of raising themes and pulling them apart repeats (Figure 6), the ongoing project of increased critical consciousness toward conscientization is strengthened (Freire, 1970; 1997). With the inclusion of performative inquiry and popular theatre, novel insights occur through the improvisational theatre process as bodies learn through inter-reaction. This is a variation of the Freirian theme. The ultimate goal is creating a liberatory education for those feeling they can neither alter their worlds, nor feel they have the right to change. 39TABLE 3 Connecting Freirian Adult Education Principles to Performative Inquiry Methodology, Popular Theatre Methods, Absurdist Forms to SHAKEN: NOT DISTURBED. FREIRE/LIBERATORY PERFORMATIVE POPULAR ABSIIRDISM SHAKEN NOT ADULT EDUCATION INQUiRY TUEATRE DISTURBED Preliminary Investigation: Look for a group Announce my Interest is in an Found the group Target a group to work with availability alienated group first, then and then understand the within a and seeks a researched situation of a group community and sense of psychiatric then wait to be meaning for survivors and invited in to itself. mental work with a disabilities group Investigation: Observations Open with initial Meet with Look for Have cast Decodify and Evaluation questions for group, develop contradictions members bring in “report findings” exploration opening group sense, in life experiences so out into further and identify group experiences — we can explore deepened questions — issues, explore extend the myths and problem pose rather issues through reasoning to power rituals — to than find one solution theatrical absurd or report through a exercises, and satirical levels performance theatre — develop black “training” comedic moments Culture Circle “Container” within “Rehearsal “Structures” of The “ritual” of which chaotic and Process” to contradiction our weekly open performative explore and hyperbole meetings were explorations occur performatively containers for our life experience process and developing performance structures Generative Themes —Create Key Questions to Key Processes Key Employment, a complex picture of keep in mind when that support Contradictory Psychiatric experiences being political exploring process and questions and Structures Power, Poverty, structures structures Death Codification — identify Sub-questions; Look at pieces How do Employment smaller parts of themes probing questions of myths and smaller pieces theme: broken emerge through process rituals contradict one into performatively that construct another and Looking for work exploring larger the larger issue still remain in a El Appeal Panel question and the powers cohesive form Faking It that keep them Filling the Gap in place New Job Unemployment The ritual repeats 40fFREIRE PERYORMATIVE POPULAR - SHAKEN NOT INQUIRY TREATRE DISTURBED Decodification: Opening the question Alter Ego Serious and Hypnosis game problematize a theme performatively exercise, Body Comedic as drug through: What If? So Guard Forms dependency, What? Who cares? movement, Exaggeration Body Guard What matters? Hypnosis of movement, exercise as Questions drive the exercise, facial reactions, automaton work exploration deeper in Mirrors, clown-like world, the issues, processes Forum Theatre, characters, Alter Ego scene and structures — as Newspaper Factual depicting the this is done old forms Theatre, Overheads in tension between are destroyed to make Invisible comedic scene patient care and way for new ways of Theatre drug company being salesmen and bonuses “Buster” character in Employment Reflective Learning in Moments of Play with Play with Emotions can be Action recognition; the myths and social and controlled by Stopped moments social rituals institutional individuals rather when insights are supporting structures than emotions sparked broader issues controlling one’s behaviour; Who is an economic drain on society? Publicly paid professionals or psychiatric survivors? Conscientization: a Ask deeper questions Through Examine Repressive deepened awareness of looking at smaller creating and structures reactions more social issues and one’s and smaller performing contradicting reflective of place in society are not as constituent parts processes of themselves to others’ fear than fixed and permanent as creates a stronger oppressive create openings of any previously thought understanding of relationships for using satire, impairment — social questions comes a greater humour to suicide is a understanding highlight the construction of how power absurdity of based on false and oppression superficial consciousness — operate appearances killing one’s self creates stress for loved ones rather than alleviates it as in the Suicidal Sally scene 41FREIRE . . ... PERFORMATIVE POPULAR ABSTJRDISM SHAKEN: NOT . . . QUWY THEATRE .. :. :... DISTURBED Social Action: ways to Further questions to The act of Find ways to The cast offered change society once a cycle keep in mind should performing as a rethink recommendations of popular education has further social action social action structures.... for action at the been completed be considered falls out of the Change end of the play popular theatre contradictory (Chapter 5) process during structures exploring issues — including additional popular theatre cycles Freire’s work unlocks the field of popular education allowing pedagogy and andragogy educationalists to focus on critical learning projects. Freire (Facundo, 2003; Ohliger, 2003; Taylor, 1993) did not focus specifically on gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality or disability. Popular education exposes critical examinations: the use of power to shape various in- and out-groups, the moulding of interests and authorities within a society and those “owning” language and speaking for others. Boal, through Freire’s work, opened up the field of popular education, allowing critical education and cultural workers to focus on creative education projects (Boal, 1974, 1992). Within this study, there was an affirmation of collective popular theatre process and critical emancipatory perspectives of art. In this project, the creation of the play, Shaken Not Disturbed with a Twist, made concrete the issues of the group’s oppression to interrupt, disturb and, ultimately, transgress experiences of powerlessness. This research moved the discussion into new directions, namely, disabled people’s performativity and theatre. Table 3 connects Freirian Adult Education Principles to Performative Inquiry Methodology, Popular Theatre Methods, Absurdist Forms as unfolded in Shaken Not Disturbed with a Twist. Popular adult education is conversant 42with performative inquiry and popular theatre (Table 3) and with what transpired within Shaken: Not Disturbed. Performative Inquiry This study relied on performative inquiry centrally as its research methodology (Fels, 1998). The study’s approach employed both popular theatre processes and absurdist forms to explore in co-creative ways their experiences of living with psychiatric diagnoses (Fels & Meyer, 1997). The “action-interaction” space is where “interstanding” occurs (Taylor & Saarinen, 1994). Fels (1998, 2003) etymologically pulls apart the word performance or per/for/mance, to arrive at what is at the heart of performative inquiry: And the prefix per suddenly takes on a split-personality whenjuxtaposed with form meaning “utterly, throughout and through “form but also “to do away, away entirely or to [the]destruction” ofform Is performance action both within, through and without form? In our reading ofperformance we imagine a creative action-interaction a birthing and rebirthing simultaneously withinform and the destruction ofform and suddenlyfind ourselves in an unexpected space between structure and chaos [bolding mine] (Fels, 1999, p.48) 43Thus, suggests Fels it is “through form and simultaneously through the destruction of form that we come to action”(Fels, 1998, p. 234), in which action is understood as “doing, being, knowing.” This etymological play, as Fels describes, locates us in the theoretical playground of complexity theorists, “the edge of chaos,” a generative space of learning, creating and re-creating. Within this enactive and interactive environment of performative explorations, questions help frame the inquiry: What matters? What If? So what? (Fels & Meyer, 1997). • What matters? The methodology focuses on complex dynamics at an embodied level in order to deconstruct experiences important to individuals • What if? The uncovering of new questions through initial inquiry is about the opening of possibilities. • So What? A sense of empowerment, control and the exploration of identity. All of this occurs in a “framed space” (my term) apart from, but connected to, the lives of the individuals involved. In this environment, a ritualized “container” for learning begins to emerge (Fels, 1998, pL33). The learning, which emerged from within this performative inquiry, was teased out through combinations and permutations of body-memory, emotions, experiences and senses. Examples of unfolding awareness occurring among the cast are described in Chapter 5. Fels and Meyer (1997) indicate performative inquiry assumes knowledge is “embodied in creative action and interaction” (p. 76). Knowledge is a verb rather than a noun (Fels, 1998). This methodology is, at a fundamental level, a physical and concrete approach to experiential learning. As interactivity occurs, collaborative interpretation simultaneously unfolds. In a new group, the function of power has to be negotiated. For some individuals, a span of time may elapse before a sense of freedom of “letting go” flourishes. Expectations of “being told to perform something” are replaced by motivations of “wanting to” and “needing to.” The co-searchers’ evolving sense of 44performance mirrors the shift from being externally guided to being internally motivated to explore one’s self. The Biological Roots ofPerformative Inquiry Performative inquiry relies on the intricate systems model provided by biology (Maturana, 1995; Maturana & Varela, 1992; Varela, Thompson & Rosch, 1992). Several key terms from enactivist literature apply to performative inquiry. Embodied knowledge is collectively created as cast members experience the yet-to-be-discovered. Of particular interest, are concepts of drift, flow, and autopoiesis because they were evident in the unfolding of experience when working with the co-searchers. Dr,ft occurs through letting go of preconceptions, of presumptions of knowing and what it means to “be” (Maturana, 1988). Accustomed ways of being, thinking, interacting and experiencing open out to what is offered and to what is given back in return (Varela, Thompson & Rosch, 1991). Flow describes the total involvement of the mind-bodies of all involved, to the exclusion of everything else (Csikszentmihalyi, 1998; Maturana, 1995) or to be lost in the (inter)actions and focus of the moment. Opening one’s self up to others, increases the possibility one’s self will be opened to understandings about the world. This goal also moves people toward one of the goals of existentialism (to be discussed later): to accept others knowing others accept you. Being vulnerable to another’s perspective creates an experience where all worldviews of those present are susceptible to change. A utopoiesis (literally meaning “automatic /self production”) (Mariotti, 1999), indicate the processes whereby living things are understood to be systems continuously reproducing themselves, just as this group continually did each time it met. Translating 45this concept into society is the notion various social groups, systems of power and individuals perpetuate their existence through continual engagement as part of an environment. The untangling of an individual from the society becomes virtually impossible. Enactivist Roots Enactivists believe learning is shaped by interactive and embodied structures of existence. The shift in insight results in changing perceptions of the world (Fenwick 1999). Complexity. Complicity. Structures can contain system shifts but these structural restrictions do not automatically cause change. Through raised awareness, interstanding during a performative exploration helps illustrate experience as being of one’s own making in conjunction with others. Interstanding arises from co-creation. This shared awareness becomes important as a reflection of the co-searchers’ emergent learning (including the researcher’s) and comprehension of voice, identity and power. Cast members’ interactions within the larger social world are implicated by unfolding new interpretations of experience. Enactivism is dependent on “interstanding” (Fels, 1998; 2003; Hocking, Haskell & lAnds, 2001; Taylor & Saarinen, 1994). Also, this theory envisions individuals deconstructing various aspects of life stories. Interrogation of form was exercised among the co-searchers while seeking new awareness. Group members worked from within repressive systems of medicalized power. In turn, the effects of oppression were implicated in the performative work of the cast. As a collective finds its senses of identity changing, echoes are felt within systems of power and control (Reid, 2002). As new knowledge unfolds, old insights are revised by being destroyed or changed. Within 46enactivist research (Reid, 1996), “analysis” is conceptualized as being a co-evolution of ideas born through active interpretation. Here is another place where Freirian culture circles resonate with performative inquiry (Table 3). Theory and “data” (acts of interpretation) co-emerge through the interactions within the group. As this study’s explorations deepened, the theoretical anticipations of performative inquiry were made manifest through the practice of popular theatre. Awareness of experience was located within the inter-relations among co-searchers and new understandings emerged. Performative inquiry, through popular theatre (in an absurdist mode), ensures an enactive, interactive and shared process with others. Enactively co-creating moments of comprehension are complex and ambiguous. Many “stopped” moments carry births of interstanding as a whole kaleidoscope of associations collide, are played with, turned inside out and brought together within the process of co-evolution. Over time, “moments of recognition” can be brought together to form a structure through action. Collectively, these turning points become “mapping in reflection” or a coherent “laying down a path in walking” (Fels, 1998; Machado, 1983; Varela, 1987). Within the play, Shaken: Not Disturbed, various scenes and movement pieces were the cast’s own version of reflective, thematic mapping of its explorations. Knowledge Reconceptualized As the learner co-creates new and emerging knowledge and experiences in the immediacy of the moment, an experiencing of “losing one’s self’ or “finding the flow” in the action occurs (Csikszentmihalyi, 1998; Maturana, 1995). This focussed experience is the ultimate opening up of the context to new learning within a collective. As learners raise their awareness, the context they are a part of also changes to reflect new insights, 47creating ripples across a broader spectrum of social networks. As changes are felt more broadly within the larger context, the identity of learner(s) also changes: something which occurred within this study. Performative inquirers, like enactivists, understand social knowledge is conjured through complex and complicated interactions (with)in the world of lived experiences; through an engagement within relationships (Reid, 1996). Just as the notion of what “counts” as “knowledge” is reconceptualized through enactivism, performative co-searchers re-envision the concept of insight, or moments of learning, occurring within perfonnative interactions. This is where popular theatre’s process intersects with the theoretical underpinnings of performative inquiry: “knowledge is creating” (Fels, 1995, p. 37) (Table 3). The co-mingling of body-minds within this work shifts the focus of the researcher from looking at the parts (individuals) of a system (society) to focus on relationships within it. Learning is examined within the in-betweenness among people rather than individuals themselves. Because of an intentional delving into relationships previously ignored, a sense of something “non-visible” slowly emerged as recognizable and concrete. To bring forth the not-seen or not yet known, something needs to jar the perceptually peaceful order of things. By doing so, what was hidden by taken-for grantedness is dislocated into being noticed as unfamiliar. For example, recognizing awareness as shared action, rather than simply an individual’s sole responsibility was a memorable moment within the group. A key moment occurred when the cast, collectively drafted the “Mental Seeking Mental” (Appendix G) romance advertisement for the show. As words were played with and mainstream concepts were transformed into 48psychiatrically laden experiences, the profound sense of sexuality and mental disorder emerged within the group. Performative inquiry views knowledge as an act of knowing, doing, being, creating (Fels, 1995): the power ofplaying is added within this research. Within Chapters 4 and 5 there are examples of serendipitous and novel connections that arise through fun. While playing is seen as something done to alleviate stress from ordered and structured work, games are important because of their spontaneity and conviviality. The apparent frivolity allows an individual’s awareness to covertly make experiential connections outside of taken-for-granted attentiveness. By “letting go” of daily ordered expectation, new potential associations, relationships and non-visible directions to explore emerge. Creatively interstanding involves, both, the initial destruction of taken-for-granted forms in order to create new potentials of possibility. Approaches to performative inquiry can involve diverse arts processes which call into play the embodied thinking, experiences, emotions, dreams, prejudices, yearnings and desires for becoming (Fels, 1998). Because of the “open” nature (meaning information can come and go freely blurring individuals’ boundaries) of the co-searchers’ workings, creating a “container” to house the chaotic work of play and performative explorations was important. The smaller “social system” of the cast was continually implicated by a variety of larger ones, including, psychiatric staff, social workers, loved ones, the media, and government among others. Even while the group explored, recent experiences percolated into current explorations. New questions emerged and were sent out to inform the lives of the members. While the group tried to keep everything within the “container” isolated, what occurred was a constant “bleeding” back and forth between the performative inquiry and 49larger society. Within this study, for example, a ritual was constructed to “contain” the opening and closing of time and space to sharpen the border between our process of popular theatre and its “nesting” within the broader systems of the cast’s lives. The rituals of the group meetings allowed for the “edge of chaos to unfold” (Fels and Meyer, 1997). Having ritualized beginning and ending points for each session gave a sense of order, yet the space was filled with random and intentional interactions. The two, in part, allowed for the creativity and novelty of insights to occur (Bell, 1995). Performance requires individuals to come together in random, ambiguous and, at times, chaotic motion and relationships of action around a central impetus (question, topic, quote, picture, story, experience, or process) (Fels, 1998; Freire, 1970; Prentki & Selman, 2001). Using one’s body to communicate hidden memories and experiences opens acts of remembering through embodied actions and increased awareness. Too many oppressed lives fall into a vacuum of silence of being “never-known.” Those participating in this project were among those often non-visible to many individuals in society. Performatively inquiring does not explore what is known about the world, but dares to seek out what is not known or recognized. Guided by illuminating questions, the light can fall more clearly on the question this project began with in its desire to excavate increasingly complex queries. The study began with the following question: IT’77at shifts occur within a group ofrural adults living with mental disorder(s) as it develops and presents an absurdistpopular theatre community production? This query reflected a general direction into the complex and complicit unknown. What becomes revealed is known as the single, stopped instant of its revelation and in a way unique to the group of co-searchers. Within performative inquiry, momentary 50instances or “stops” transpire (Applebaum, 1995) when a flash of insight occurs within a particular space and time. In the search for connection space-moments, or “ahas” of insight, ping into embodied thought. These moments emerge when co-searchers least expect them (adding to the power of the “stop”). Examples of “the stop” are described in Chapter 5. In an instant, new awareness emerges: participants momentarily experience the shudder of meaning as bodies take in fleeting experiences. Rejecting a moment of “stop” closes a particular action; taking it in allows for the exploration to go further. This inquiry involved elements of “risk,” the involvement of embodied action, anticipation of possibility and shared meaning of people’s experiences. What can assist in mapping awareness “falling out” from a performative inquiry is the development of a performance as was done with Shaken: Not Disturbed. The continual improvising within popular theatre performance allows for the initial exploration to continue, evolution to deepen and incorporation of dialogue with audiences to: deepen the playing.... the jig oflife in the margins ofliving.., the chaotic “ah-has” the revelations. Reflection within performative inquiry occurs both in moments of creating as well as through group and individual contemplation that follows. Time plays a key role for the emergence of new insights. Mapping in reflection creates an opportunity to review instances when popping of awareness may have occurred but was not recognized as such at the time. By reflecting back over the experience to connect when insights occurred creates a sense of whole and meaning, despite the project remaining open and contingent. Even after the collective recounting of the experience, a shared meaning-making exercise, further understandings may emerge through ongoing conversations and 51explorations over time. The openness of the process anticipates this playing with experience to continue even outside of the inquiry itself. Popular Theatre: Collective Meaning-Making Popular education’s philosophy supports popular theatre practice. The process used within this research is one based on popular theatre. The project of popular education, exemplified by Freire’s (1970) work, was the enhancement of capacity for communities to affect material social change, to (re)shape for themselves their own sense of history, place, identity and most importantly: autonomy. The critical libratory adult educator, Freire (1997, p.108), lists several attributes required to carry out popular education and theatre projects. Generous LOVING heart HUMILITY RESPECTfor others TOLERANCE JOYFUL disposition LOVE oflife COMMON SENSE welcome CHANGE PERSEVERANCE in spirit ofHOPEREFUSAL OF DETERMINISM OPENNESS TO JUSTICE Each of these elements was found in the group, with cast members as co searchers expressing the same values to one another. When participants experienced gaps in understanding, they learned through the cast’s shared stories and experiences. Because of this sharing of similar values among the group, the project was ultimately quite successful. Each new project contains varying combinations of these characteristics, but COURAGE OPENNESS to newness struggle 52centrally the container holding them all has to be the educator’s central, critical curiosity for lives lived outside the norm (Freire, 1970; 1997). Contemplating Popular Theatre In an effective popular education project, an animator or cultural worker is invited in by the community to work with it. Citizens explore social, economic, identity, power or other local issues, while analyzing dynamics, evolving plots and emerging changes. To be effective as an adult educator working within social justice, the cultural worker needs to be attuned to the social, historical and economic life of the local community (Freire, 1970). The power of giving testimony and being witness to the telling is a powerful relationship. The aim is to uncover misunderstanding, as well as awareness, while disrupting “other” imposed limitations: to empower. In the midst of wanting to get “the good stuff,” the risk of over-exposure of one’s self to the public leaves the individual feeling vulnerable (Salverson, 1996, 1997). This dynamic of encouraging over-exposure of personal stories can be exploitive or empowering, depending on the intent behind the sharing and the individual making the request. Numerous systems of popular theatre abound. However, most include the role of facilitator working with a community group by providing process tools, approaches and guidance for the overall work, while loosening the hold (ideally letting go) of the lead. Popular theatre envisages the facilitator versed in process. The direction of the work rests within the revealed path resulting from embodied processes within the whole group (Bappa and Etherton, 1983; Bates, 1996). Incorporating a popular theatre cycle within a performative inquiry allows for complex play of chaos to open up aspects of ignorance. 53Mining risky life episodes allows conjuring of a co-emergence of tales. Through explorations and embodied interactions with characters, thoughts, emotions and senses, the richness of what becomes known appears and is continually reformed and examined. The aim is opening the group to richer, deeper explorations of past life episodes while creating new life imaginings. Popular theatre and performative inquiry resonate with where the facilitator is located. Both can have the cultural worker “outside” the immediacy of the group’s interactions. On the other hand, the worker may be located within the process, performing alongside the cast as with this study. In this role, I worked from within the group as a fellow traveller to prod, challenge, experiment and offer proposals. When the group disagreed with my suggestions, co-searchers were encouraged to veto. Within popular theatre, power shifts in fluid ways among members. The facilitator’s responsibility also bestows on him or her a degree of power, to be used to open up exploration or oppress and stifle creativity. The potential to exploit is ever- present. The ability to encourage or foster empowerment is equally pervasive. What fosters empowerment versus oppression is the facilitator’s love, respect, awe, openness, trust, humour and intuition toward the group. Within Canada, two predominant approaches to popular theatre practice exist: the use of story and character to describe histories or communication of information and ideas (Barnet, 1987). This study relied on both. Much popular theatre remains within “theatre by the people, for the people, with the people and about the people’s issues” within a particular community (Prentki and Selman, 2000). Performative inquiry also begins where the players or cast members are located in their experiences. Performative 54explorations move participants into unknown or unremembered regions of experience and being. Thus, the process and learner co-evolve. Everything is in flux. Barba ‘s Approach Barba’s approach to popular theatre is instructive for this research (1979, 1986, 1995, 1997). He focuses on actors teaching one another and themselves about using bodies to communicate. Under Barba’s guidance, each actor develops an individual regime of physical movement practice and warm up. A person’s approach to training is about exploration of physicality, thought, emotion and voice, rather than simply acquiring skills. Unlike Boal’s theorization, methodological approaches and his presumed splintering of body and mind, performative inquiry envisions a stronger reliance on an inter-relationship between the two. A training cycle, with Barba, occurs when each participant uses a variety of improvisational exercises to focus on an area of development. This continues until a personal “system” is created and used until no further benefit is gained (Barba, 1995). Once this process is exhausted, a new cycle of exploration commences. Working repetitively through exercises embracing body-mind, to remember ‘extra-daily’, or theatrical behaviour (Barba, 1995), the actor develops a repertoire of movements to be called on quickly for more random and dynamic exploration. One of popular theatre’s strengths, as it is within a performative inquiry, is the importance of group reflection and dialogue for reaching conscientization (Freire, 1970). Both performative inquiry and popular theatre “speak” to the learning process in newer and more complex ways. “Sats” or the moments just before action and the intention supporting them are used as an entrance into understanding unfolding experiences (Barba, 1997). These 55motions are examined to elicit potentially different outcomes. Using random chance for connections to create new insights in a broader sense allows for working through more narrowly defined, concrete issues seen as repressive by group members. Performative inquiry looks with a predetermined sense, preferring to play within and among bodies while keeping an eye out for accidental physical, social, political and relational associations pointing the way into life in the margins. The more focussed the flow of exploration and less inhibited the play, greater potential existed for opening more insightful queries. The Popular Theatre Process In popular theatre, a cyclical process usually occurs in six stages: group formation, theatrical expression exploration, performance development, presentation, post- production and social action and preparation for a new cycle of popular theatre engagement (Figure 5). While defined boundaries for each period are described, in practice each container in the process pours itself into the next. Also, back-splashing to earlier stages occurs. Occasionally, a need arises to rebuild the group because of new members joining (Mastai, 1987; Prentki and Selman, 2000; Spry, 1994). The first stage, group formation, the goal is for the facilitator and community group to co-merge as one through play, trust and, ultimately, risk-taking. The cultural worker informing the community often initiates this coming together. Once the existence of the performative adult educator is known, continual contact is maintained with the community, while the facilitator waits for the invitation to work with a particular local group. When the practitioner is allowed in, a period of group development and cohesion follows. This includes a period of games and exercises. Their aim is the formation of trust 56within the group, acquainting all participants with (inter)acting among bodies and through physically relating with one another (Salverson, 1996). Exploring theatrical expression involves a process whereby the facilitator offers ways for non-actors or those unacquainted with the arts to play with these processes. Coupled with the previous phase, this second stage commences when the facilitator feels more in the “lead,” aid is in a position of offering to the co-searchers various aspects of theatre: voice, movement, improvisation, story-telling, interactivity, working with image, emotions and other elements of interest to the group for its particular project. As the risk of one exercise is played out, various tools and exercises are introduced so participants grow to understand what theatre “feels like” and what art can do to aid members in forming their public voice. Exploration of co-searchers’ stories through initial theatre exercises, imagery, and short scenes is similar to Freirian codification. Further exploring issues and interpreting questions through additional story investigation and development, like decodification, opens up possibilities for disrupting oppression while creating avenues toward empowerment. Performative inquiry envisions similar tools and processes as well (Fels, 1998; Saldana, 1998; Selman, 1987). The third stage, performance development, begins once a degree of comfort within the group and with processes of theatre making emerged. Some practitioners have a narrow view of what a production “looks like.” Other cultural workers leave the development open to the needs, desires and interests of the group as it develops a public, collective presence and voice. This is where the difference between facilitator and co searchers exist: in a subtle power differential. This is a period for many emotional, shared stories. As past experiences are retold, story ideas and ways of presentation emerge. 57Within Shaken: Not Disturbed, the group imagined what it would be like for each of them to be seen as any other person in society: as “normal.” What fpeople with psychiatric diagnoses were treated like anyone else, what would their lives look like? Feel like? What meanings and opportunities would they have that they don ‘t now? Imagining “what if’ was a powerful moment for the cast. It was this impetus that moved the group to explore the first of its key themes: employment. So much of society is implicated by one’s employment status. This group was no different. Each popular theatre group or project is unique. It requires the flexibility of a gentle, guiding hand of the popular theatre worker. Figure 7: A popular theatre cycle 58A key within this process’s stage is the exploration and transformation of vulnerable and victimizing stories into universal ideas, metaphors or signposts of oppression. These windows for exploration and growth are sources to find power in the telling. Investigations supporting popular theatre performances are hidden from public view, but they are critically important because workshop explorations directly inform and shape the presentation’s ultimate structure and content. Within the Freirian (1970) perspective, this is a period of codification (the telling of stories), decodification (pulling the experiences apart) and (re)codification (reshaping the elements into more universalized fictions of empowerment and performative elements) (Table 3). As parts are conjured through interactions and carried out among group members, a penultimate moment is the construction of a performance. The fourth stage occurs when a particular group feels ready. During this stage, the cast presents their explorations publicly. Arrangements for a public presentation are made to perform in front of an audience. Of great importance is where a presentation takes place. The importance of a show’s framing, through the physical location of the building and performance space, influences the reception of a popular theatre experience (Haedicke, 1993; Read, 1993; States, 1996; Wellworth, 1971; Whitmore, 1994). The fifth stage, post-production activities, follows the performative experience. These include receiving feedback from the audience and fellow cast members, to understand what insights were gleaned from the experience. Feedback encompasses debriefing sessions immediately following performances. It also entails, as was done in this study, conducting individual interviews with cast members without the influence of the group as a whole. Spectators will also be canvassed to understand their insights. 59While at first glance this seems like individualism, the popular theatre process does not reside at a personal level because all stages are explicitly collaborative. However, learning and integration of the experiences can be individualized. Finally, the sixth and last stage of the process is the movement of the theatre experience into social knowledge through community action. Imagining one theatre- making experience will suffice for creating any sort of prolonged social action is short sighted (Bates, 1996). For many communities, the notion and processes of popular theatre are unknown. As a result, making connections within the larger community often takes more than one occurrence for sustained local actions to transpire. Popular theatre is the process. The forms incorporated within the work were drawn from notions of “carnivalesque” (Bakhtin, 1984) and the theatre of the absurd (Esslin, 1961, 1976). Meaning emerges between what occurs between audience and cast, while absurdism places the relationship of spectator and actor centrally in its effort to play with symbols and relationships to meaning. Forms of Absurdity To Inform Life Don ‘t walk behind me, I may not lead Don ‘t walk in front me I may notfollow Just walk beside me and be myfriend (Camus, 1955) Existentialism According to writers like Camus (1947, 1955, 1976) and Sartre (1946; 1948; 1976; 1979) our being precedes anything else to do with the presence of individuals or the idea of “existence precedes essence.” How individuals come to see themselves is done through their interrelating within and as part of the worlds they inhabit. By “freely” acting within 60their experiential environments, their human awareness comes to be, through this interaction, in a way similarly envisioned by performative inquiry. Simultaneously, individuals independently choose their interactions. Concurrently, they are also interconnected to the choices of others. Because of this intimately (inter)acting world, persons are said to be “thrown into a world” (Sartre, 1948) not of their design or making. Once in society, individuals try to ascribe and inscribe meaning onto aspects of living having no innate essential qualities. We, as individuals, put significance into experience where none exists. Faced with this lack of outside determinants for interpreting, existentialists say individuals are faced with angst in having to choose our own human nature, principles and values. You will never be happy f you continue to search for what happiness consists of You will never live fyou are lookingfor the meaning of flfe. (Camus,1956, p. 23) Existentialists suggest in order to be authentic human beings, the kind of person an individual imagines him-/herself as being is central. Responsibility accompanies this choice. What is chosen has an effect on others in the world and decisions for one’s self. Everyone matters because each influences others within a group or society. Therefore, by just letting our selves be, the responsibility is one of simply allowing everything and everyone else the freedom to naively be in their projects of living and “becoming.” Bad Faith or “falling” is when individuals give in to pressures to confonn to what others want. In this case, to fall means a “breaking away” or “estrangement” from what it is to be authentically human (Sartre, 1948). To live in an authentic manner is living with the responsibility of free will, while taking into account other individuals. Another instance occurs when individuals completely disregard the existence of others and are fundamentally focussed on their interests, as an island in a sea of society. Much bad faith 61emerges in social relationships as individuals strive to be like their idol (whether media, academic, sports or any category of elitism). By doing this, the individual’s authenticity becomes erased; what is left is a caricature of someone else’s vision. This, in turn, is the reflection of yet another and so on. This is one source of absurdism: the desire to construct a false image of one’s self in order to be accepted by another. In turn, the first observer is simultaneously reflecting the image of still another and so on. All of this is perpetuated for the sake of acceptance, belonging and meaning. This illustrates feelings of an existential anguish because along with free choice, there is striving toward authenticity. The responsibility for genuineness is also borne in through “making the right choices.” As selections are made, existentialists ask the person to keep in mind: As one individual chooses a way of being, actions of responsibility directed toward others in the world must be acknowledged. Because humans are alone with each other, they must exist with one another in harmony. If this is incorporated into the processes of performative inquiry, bad faith does not exist easily because of the deep attention each participant has to offer up into the project of co-creating meaning. This meaning is not of some thing as in the typical notion of knowledge, but through a process involving others as each shares aspects of their selves to a larger collective project. Existentialists speak of a forlornness arising when individuals come to the understanding “God is dead.” Humans are in the world alone and the consequences of this realization is one of feeling lost, disconnected and forlorn (Sartre, 1946). No otherworldly entity guiding the fate of people exists. People carry out acts alone without the omnipotent guidance of an invisible being. Related to this is the idea of existential despair because each person’s place in the world is uncertain. The consequences of 62actions are never assured beforehand. One certainty is death. All efforts, while alive, are implicitly aimed toward eventually leaving this life. Everything carried out has to be done in relation to one’s ultimate leaving. Groups of people live in this way where death is onmipresent yet unforeseen: individuals surviving oppression and poverty; the constant experience of death in agriculture, those whose employment puts them in constant jeopardy and those individuals constructed as targets of violence. Ultimately, with this demise is the utter lack of meaning in terms of one’s living. This is the source of another absurdity. Individuals put great stock toward constructing themselves in all sorts of elaborate ways: possessing expensive things, being connected to the “right” people, believing what current “gurus” tell them and so on, all in an effort to find meaning where there ultimately is none. People live; people die. Any meaning arising is done within the immediacy between or among individuals’ interactions. Meaning is fleeting. Figure 8, on page 67, brings all the pieces together. Everything occurs within everyday life. Adult education is almost as large and encompassing as living is because most of the time adults are engaged in some aspect of learning. What is demonstrated visually is how this study could be placed within the lives of the cast. In a more defined way (the thicker broken lines), the co-searchers worked broadly within andragogy and relied upon the framework of performatively inquiring. With these two pieces framing the work, popular theatre aided in narrowing down the exploration into the realm of absurd art, in a sort of bull’s eye form. Arrows indicate the study is fairly defined within the lives of the group. Pathways for awareness are realized in the group to make it out to their broader lives and vice versa. Art and life seep into one another through the porous character of the performative inquiry “container.” 63Within the environment the group developed for itself, over several months of working together, the labelled scenes also indicate how the explorations unfolded. We began with our time together by playing and learning to know one another. This work is basic to adult education, which is why it remains surrounding and holding the study. As the sides of the container became more known, through theatre exercises and the weekly rituals, the group began to turn inward more to understand the issues. We started with performative inquiries using the popular theatre process of stories, through tableaux and short superficial vignettes, to further engage with the material. Just as performative inquiry both contained the work and opened explorations up more fully, so did popular theatre. As the focus moved from strictly inquiring into how to present our experience, we drew increasingly upon popular theatre approaches. To concretize our work more fully with an audience in mind, popular theatre processes opened into absurdist forms. The practice in this group had them looking at their lives more critically. In some instances this occurred. Absurdism ‘s Forms The universe seems to me infinitely strange and foreign. At such a moment I gaze upon it with a mixture of anguish and euphoria; separate from the universe, as though placed at a certain distance outside it; I look and see pictures, creatures that move in a kind of timeless time and spaceless space emitting sounds that are a kind of language I no longer understand or ever register” (lonesco, 1959). The word “absurd” originated from music-making to indicate being out ofharmony with surrounding tonality. Later, its means transformed to being out ofharmony with prevailing society, to being illogical. Currently, it is defined as being ridiculous (Hoad, 1993, p. 125). A mainstream theatre academic, Martin Esslin (1961; 1976), reflecting 64back from the 1 960s to the 1 940s, coined the definitive term in order to critique the work of a group of playwrights (members include Beckett, lonesco, Pinter, Genet). Playscripts are not always used. Instead visual images, objects, soundscapes, improvisation, disjointed language are production values this theatre form relies on. Absurdist playwrights write in a similar style. Grouping together writers disconnected from one another was more for the purpose of ease of working with a label, rather than constructing any real sense of dramatic “movement.” In 1948, Artaud theorized the impulses and aspirations absurdist art sought out. Absurdism’s target is assaulting and undermining entrenched rational and existential assumptions of society, while eroding away collective social illusions (such as meritocracy, democracy, equality, charity, justice and fairness). Absurdism relies on an open, heightened appeal to emotions in order to affect the body-mind of the spectator. Protest and resistance are the underpinning elements of absurdity through the making of fun by extending commonsense reason into exaggeration. Efforts begin by defamiliarizing the world, while deconstructing the assumptions fixing status quo perspectives in place. The absurdist strategy is one of creating a dream-like, nightmarish state (Gaenbauer, 1991). The grotesque occurs in a state of disconnection while responding to a perceived lack of meaning and order in the lived world (Bakhtin, 1956). Ugly distortions serve to shake spectators’ confidence in their ways of understanding the social world, but the foundation of truths and values supporting beliefs remain. Absurdity shifts values and truths into strange and unfamiliar territory; curiosity defamiliarizes taken-for-granted relationships. Carnival (Bakhtin, 1956) is conceptualized as sites for freeing previously repressed and marginalized desires, expressions and identities. The world is seen as a 65“hail of mirrors” (Brustein, 1964, 1971), with reality merging with fantasy. Absurd performances are about episodic contradictions, or disharmony, rather than rational causes/effects of plots. The structure is either circular or one gradually increasing in intensity. Absurdism is a theatre of situation rather than consequence, so it fits well within Freire’s notion of problem-posing education. A non-linear, decentred, unbalanced, sceptical, abstract, ambiguous, “unclosed” atmosphere is the prevailing aspect of the absurd ritual (limes, 1993). Discord does not use dichotomy by separating and elevating rationalism over emotions as with Brecht. The preference is a unified emotional body. Movement in juxtaposition is critical for this theatre. This is likened to the shamanic trance of sound to move beyond the apparent into the previously unknown (Schutzman, 1994). Reliance is on symbolism used to highlight elements reminding spectators that signs of oppression exist in ways experienced actions or contexts do. Borrowing from Brecht (1972), absurdists defamiliarize taken-for-granted habits of being through alienation rituals of distorted repetition, separation of actor from character and ability to embody both oppressor and oppressed within one person or role and movement such as rhythm and mirroring. The fourth wall is removed within some absurdist works to both remind audience members the play is real and the real is play. Also, breaking through this theatre convention reconnects theatre as a centre of community learning and activity: mixing the real with the artificial, as was done within the performance of Shaken: Not Disturbed. Characters are constructed as caricatures to show how flimsy our selves are. Posing and masquerading are hidden parts of the human condition. Actors play their characters by playing themselves and through expressing their portrayals as fact, the 66fiction of their narratives (Grotowski, 1968) take on a pronounced sense of authenticity. Players living the experiences portrayed carry the weight and responsibility of legitimacy of their actions to a public not able to refute experiences they have not lived. The point of — POPULAR — — I ADULT Ic-) I EDUCA TION EVERYDAY LIVING RURAL DISABILITY L J FIGURE 8: Showing the relationships of key theories during the weekly rehearsals in connection with co-searchers’ lives. 67rehearsing is self-realization by more clearly connecting selves as characters born out of experience. To be one’s self is to be one’s entire body-mind-experience. The goal is the destruction of predetermined and fixed social roles so actors and spectators achieve self- realization (Grotowski, 1968) in order to open up new forms. Plot is replaced by an atmosphere of ritualistic repetition of exaggeration and rhythni to apparent pointlessness (Artaud, 1970; Mayberry, 1989). The everydayness of life is stretched and contorted to find new ways of seeing life: searching for meaning through and among bodies interacting. More importantly, absurdism unearths values, beliefs, perceptions and practices others have imposed and promoted as having natural meaning in a world without pre-existing essence (Esslin, 1961). Absurd plays probe audiences to motivate them to ask questions so they can construct, for themselves, possible meanings. Spectators contribute significantly to the message of the performance. Experiential and historical understandings of artefacts illustrate the leakage occurring with symbols, generally, and language, specifically (Zepetnek, 2002). Absurdists throw signs up, leaving understanding them open for spectators to “read in” as in Barthes’ (1978) notion of “readerly” text. Meaning often is discovered or changed after leaving the performance and on further distant reflection, talking and interaction. Audiences remain in a somewhat passive observing role, but in a persona specifying a type of spectator (Grotowski, 1968; Richards, 1995). Demanding an audience “perform” can create a psychic block “shutting down” spectators in fear and nervousness, rather than remaining open to what is occurring around them (Grotowski, 1968). Theatre brings together private and public truths to confront one another, while generating a new social reality. Bleeding life into art allows the benefit of both to blend 68into a new, richer way of being (Figure 8). Not recognizing, welcoming and engaging with often-silenced worlds perpetuate Grotowski’s concern of abandonment occurring in society by the centre, of the margins (Wolford, 1996). Absurdism questions the blind spots of the status quo, while disrupting surface harmony. Summary: Adult Popular Education Performatively Inquiring The broad conceptual framing for this research is radical humanism. Within this, the transformation of relationships within subjectively constructed worlds is key. Within this perspective, the philosophy and use of adult education as developed and fostered by Freire was drawn on. Popular adult education’s practice, principles and assumptions of andragogy, as initially formulated by Lindemann, and later on Knowles, help inform adult learning. Within the continuum set out by Rogers (2003), this study fits within the negotiated and flexible structure of participatory education. A key aspect of popular education is drawing on the histories of learners within an experiential atmosphere. Because performative inquiry’s focus is on the cast’s interactions and creations, it too relies on experience as a process for learning. As within radical humanism, performative inquiry works within relationships as sites for learning and social transformation. Within this study, performative inquiry is the research methodology and popular theatre process is incorporated alongside absurdist forms. As with popular theatre, performative inquiry blends physicality (knowing one’s body, making the body expressive, theatre as language, and theatre as discourse) with memories stored within one’s body. The psychological, emotional, experiential, lived, spiritual and mindful wholeness of what comprises a person is brought into play. The final piece, absurdism, is the most abstract of the four (performative inquiry, popular theatre, 69existentialism and absurdism). The framing of performative inquiry creates openness, while incorporating individual selves, their life experiences and the larger society. This correspondence deepens explorations of performance to point out disempowerment and unfairness within society, particularly around non-visible oppression and inequities of power, identity and voice. The ability to freely associate, to create new knowledge through performative interactions, opens doors for possible new growth and (re)generation of identity and awareness. These opportunities are why the purposes of this study were achieved, namely, to disrupt “normal” ways of thinking about psychiatric diversity by challenging prevailing notions of mental “illness” and create better relationships between psychiatrically diagnosed and other people. For an understanding of where performative inquiry would fit into the continuum of quantitative-qualitative research paradigms please see Appendix A. The next chapter provides a brief outline of details as to how the research was carried out: finding participants, the procedures taken, and how awareness was tracked. 70CHAPTER THREE PROCEDURES: FOOTPRINTS OF THE STUDY Introduction The previous chapter explores the methodological framework within this research. This study was fixed within a radical humanist view. Also, the exploration linked popular adult education to performative inquiry and popular theatre process with absurdist forms. This chapter is a description of reflective practice. A brief description of the steps taken to create the theatre experience is described within this procedures section. There is no “recipe” or “formula” for carrying out a performative inquiry or popular theatre performance. The “footprints,” described here, were revealed in their treading. The process was marked by chaos and ambiguity. Flexibility to adapt to change in the midst of the process was critical. By outlining, in an overview, what these co searchers did in this inquiry does not suggest that if the same steps were followed, similar things would occur. Many abilities, dynamics, circumstances, experiences, stories, individuals and interpretations came together to create this experience. What follows is, but one unfolding, from an infinite number of possibilities. Gathering the Co-Searchers Before starting the study September 19, 2002, I moved to Duncan early the previous year. I took a teaching position at a local college. Living and working within the town served two purposes: first, I had an insider’s view of the local culture and second, I was, hopefully, known and approachable when I began my performative inquiry. I placed a newspaper advertisement inviting anyone in the Cowichan Valley feeling socially excluded to explore the project of rural marginalization (Appendix E). My initial community contact meeting (set up as in Figure 9 on page 77) the week prior, 71resulted in more than 25 people attending. Individuals experiencing addiction, childhood abuse, poverty, and disability arrived to hear about the project. At the second meeting, a group of members, with a counsellor from the local Open Door clubhouse, of Duncan’s Mental Health Department, arrived at the community centre. One person in that group, Buster, came to the initial recruitment get-together, the week prior. Going back to tell other members about the initial meeting and the prospect of creating theatre, brought out many individuals from “the house” the following week. While people from the Cowichan Valley came out to explore the project, it was a group from Open Door that adopted the process of performative inquiry being offered as a way to make known their voice, stories and lives. Over nine months of meetings, 20 psychiatric survivors experienced the theatre workshops supporting this research. Cast members came from a variety of backgrounds. Taking various paths, they journeyed their way to this small town. A few had lived here all their lives; others came from large cities. All found themselves within this one place, in this tiny theatre group. Throughout the study, several people from Open Door took in some of the workshops. Seven stayed through to the end. Six joined part way through and seven participated for three to thirteen sessions and never returned. Everyone participating in the workshops is included in the list of participants. Of the thirteen presenting in the performance, seven had come the full way through the project from the beginning. The list, that follows, includes both co-searchers in this performative inquiry and cast members in the theatre production that followed: “Buster” (Keaton) Buster, in his late 30s, had been a client of the mental health system for many years. Prior to his entry into the system, Buster worked for Ontario 72Hydro as a lineman. For many years, Buster was not diagnosed, or labelled, with a particular disorder because he did not seek help. He knew something was not right, but left his situation undiagnosed. Eventually, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia a decade ago. More recently, Buster was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He worked at odd jobs around the town in an effort to remain off the disability system. Buster was one of the first people to join the group and stayed with the cast through to the main performance and the fringe festival in 2003. “Tallulah” (Bankhead) Tallulah, in her mid 30s, had been a mental health services client for many years. Prior to her entry into the system, Tallulah worked as an executive assistant and was married to a successful and wealthy husband. In her mid 20s, Tallulah was diagnosed, or labelled, with obsession compulsion, bipolar disorder and depression. Tallulah was one of the first people to join the group and stayed with the cast through the main performance and the fringe festival performances in 2003 “Amelia” (Earhart) Amelia, in her late 30s, had been a client of the mental health system for many years. Prior to her entry into the system Amelia worked in restaurant management. Eventually Amelia was diagnosed, or labelled, with obsession compulsion, agoraphobia and depression. Amelia joined the group a month after it had started and continued on through to the main performance and the fringe festival performances in 2003. “Cary” (Grant) Cary, in his early 60s, and had been within the mental health system for many years. He has a dry wit and razor sharp observation of people and life. Cary’s diagnosis, or labelling, of schizophrenia occurred during his first year of university when he was studying for his B.Ed. Cary joined the group early on and stayed with the group through the main performance, fringe festival performances in 2003 and a new project in 2004/2005. “Sandy” Sandy was in her late 30s and one of the first people to join the group. Sandy did not stay long as the energy the cast expended during the early sessions of games and exercises proved too much for her. She left after a few weeks. 7 /3“Bette” (Mid/er) Bette was in her early 40s and a stay-at-home mom raising 2 children (one child was diagnosed with autism). Bette was a world-level competitive athlete in her 20s. During her marriage and the raising of her family, Bette was diagnosed, or labelled, with bipolar disorder. The effect of this diagnosis, or labelling, on her life included a divorce, raising her family alone, and living on disability payments. Bette arrived later in the first part of the process and then was absent due to some major drug adjustments going on. Bette, however, did return just in time to participate in the main performance and the fringe festival performances in 2003. Bette, shortly after the project, was decreed, or labelled, healthy and normal. Since the project she has worked at a university as an administrative assistant and speaker on mental health experience issues at local colleges. “Joan” (Baez) Joan, in her late 40s, had been in the mental health system for many years, diagnosed, or labelled, with a slow cycle bipolar disorder. Joan was someone identifring strongly with the 1960s era, particularly with the music of the times. Joan used to work in administrative management and lived comfortably prior to being diagnosed, or labelled, in her early 30s. Joan arrived as one of the first to join the group in September 2002 and stayed through the process, including the main show and the fringe festival in September 2003. For Joan, being a “slow cycler,” her depressive periods were quite long, so an issue was timing the show before or after one of these low episodes. She was quite thrilled with the way things worked out. “Jimmi” (Hendrix) Jimmi, in his 30s, had been in the mental health system for many years and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and an addiction (brought about through the combination of alcohol and marijuana). Prior to appearing in the play, Jimmi grew up in the U.S. Jimmi’s passion was his music. He wrote and sang his own songs. The week before the performance Jimmi came to a rehearsal and asked if he could play his guitar during the performance. He provided transitional music during the poultry barn and fringe festival performances. Jimmi’ s focus was to get his songs out to the public to hear. During a second project following Shaken: Not Disturbed, Jimmi wrote a number of new songs for our follow-up show. “Sidney” (Poitier) The writer of this study, a co-researcher and a cast member within this experience: I, as Sidney, wrote about the research. Just as I have 74described the cast, I drew on responses from interviews with cast members to have them describe their perception of me. You’re gay — I’m not — that ‘.s the worst thing to be called - but you ‘re okay (Buster, Interview 7, p.36); hehehe you ‘re like the big guy in Mary Poppins — drinking tea on the ceiling with those kids.... You laugh a lot (Tallulah, Interview, 24)... You really needed to have a lot tighter control on things and we needed to know what to lookfor.... (Katherine, Interview 10, p. 18). How do you get people to trust you so well — you definitely have talent (Amelia, Interview 6, p.35). Social workers want to talk, they don’t want to listen —you listen Sidney (Jimmi, May 14, 2005). “Glenda” (Jackson) Glenda was in her mid-30s and a student in mental health studies. Because she was unemployed, she returned to school for upgrading. Glenda arrived in our group in January for the play development process and was interested in theatre as a community and therapeutic intervention. Glenda performed in the main performance and the fringe festival performances in 2003. “Jean” (Seberg) Jean was a social worker in her early 40s working with many in the cast. She had some background in dance and theatre and was a self-described feminist in her beliefs and perspective. Jean was with the group from the beginning. Jean played important roles in both the main performance and the fringe festival performances in 2003, as well as our project work in 2004-2005. “Joni” (Mitchell) Joni was an artist and educator in her 40s, with some training in popular theatre as envisioned by David Diamond of Headlines Theatre in Vancouver. Joni was an immigrant from South Africa and lived with limited financial means. Joni arrived in January, in time for the play development process leading up to the performance. Joni participated in the main performance, but she did not participate in the fringe festival performance. “Katherine” (Hepburn) Katherine was my early 30s neighbour whose background was in behavioural counselling. She was invited into the group as the embedded counsellor to assist with counselling and therapy issues coming up from 75time to time during the work within the group. Katherine was the first person in the group and was involved through to the main performance, but not the fringe festival. “Lauren” (Bacall) Lauren was a masters’ student in her 30s in the field of counselling and was focussed on narrative (readers’ theatre) therapy and somatic counselling. Lauren arrived in January in time for the play production phase, participated with the technical aspects and acted during the performance. Lauren stayed through the main stage and the fringe festival performances in 2003. “Ron” (Howard) Ron was in his 20s and from Victoria, BC. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was looking to re-enter the workforce. Because of distance, season, transportation, and his re-entry into employment, Ron left the group just prior to the play production process. “John” (Belushi) John was in his 20s and was one of the first people to join the group. John’s background included having family members with a diagnosis, and label, of bipolar disorder: he was similarly identified. Though this is unclear, John did mention he had been a user of crack-cocaine; a link may exist between this substance use and the triggering of his mental health issues. John left immediately before the play development process began. “Sally” (Field) Sally was in her early 40s and one of the first people to join the group. Sally did not stay long because the energy expended during the early sessions of games and exercises proved to be too much for Sally. She left after a few weeks. Sally was very politically aware and brought some very innovative ideas with her. “Shirley” (MacLame) Shirley arrived after Christmas and was part of the earlier play development process. She had emigrated from Toronto, Ontario and was experiencing culture shock since moving to rural Vancouver Island. Shirley was in her late 40s and diagnosed, and labelled, with schizophrenia at the age of 28. This was early in her marriage. Since being diagnosed, and labelled, she was abandoned by her family, including a 76divorce from her husband. This changed recently. With her daughter asking Shirley to return home, she took up the invitation; however, this meant the cast lost Shirley’s potential contributions. “Bea” (Arthur) Bea arrived mid way in the early portion of the process and stayed for about two months before leaving. “Georgia” (Engel) Georgia arrived mid way in the early portion of the process and was shy. She participated in two or three sessions. How Insights Emerged The meeting following the initial community contact, at the community centre’s rehearsal hall, was filled with hope and optimism. I thought through, for days, how to form the group. Drawing on popular theatre exercises as my set of resources, while keeping in mind performative inquiry’s approach, pieces gradually emerged as the group of co-searchers slowly developed. Assembled in the room, the first evening of our rehearsals, was a group living with a variety of single and multiple psychiatric diagnoses. Under the mental “illness” umbrella, labels included: schizophrenia, agoraphobia, substance abuse, social phobias, obsession-compulsion disorder, uni-polar depression and bipolar disorder. Figure 9: The opening circle 77Stages In The Process The general moments the group passed through, in chronological order, were: • Group Formation — A local group of individuals invited me in to talk about process and determine whether there was a “fit” with what the potential co-searchers wanted to experience. Theatre games and exercises were used to foster cohesion and familiarity among members. (3 months) • Exploring Theatrical Expression — An exploration of expression through acting including voice, body movement, story, sounds, visual pictures, dance and use of space. Codifying or telling stories and “unpacking” narratives or decodifying performatively. (3 months) • Performance Development — Exploration of life experiences dramatically with a focus on creating some sense of “production.” The blending of theatre with remembered stories for some form of retelling. (3 months) • Presentation — All aspects of moving a sense of whole into a showing for an audience or witness the work. This period included rehearsals, constructing physical elements for the production, the performance itself and whatever immediately followed. (2 weeks) • Post Production - This period followed for some time after the show when cast members were brought together to talk about their experiences, spectators were interviewed to gather their responses and I reflected on everything that had occurred in order to get a sense of the holistic quality of the performance. (3 months) • Social Action — Sometimes the cast and/or the audience determined that a collective response needed to occur. This reaction was based on the experience of the popular theatre production. The aim was an improvement in the social, economic, political or life opportunities of the group. This included another experience of popular theatre, which was meant to be cyclical rather than a singular or once-only experience. (1 month) • New Cycle — Based on what had come before, there was a period ofjoining what had occurred in a prior popular theatre offering to an anticipated experience of additional theatre making. Shaken: Not Disturbed, with its linking between adults living with mental disorder diagnoses was connected with youth at-risk behaviours, notably crystal meth in local high schools, through the performance of Crystal Diagnosis. (2 months) 78Entering the Liminality of Our Work The sanctity of our ritual grew as it developed into four phases: entering in, being in, exploring in and closing out our ceremony of learning, or: • Checking in and a period of yoga and movement (30 minutes) • Theatre games and exercises (30 minutes) • Main idea for exploration (60 minutes) • Closure: Final thoughts and guided meditation (30 minutes) Each session began with a “check-in” to find out who was present, and comprehend each person’s energy level and connectedness to the space and each other. This was done to help shift way from learners’ preoccupations rooted in everyday living to our enclosed, ritualized and contained space. Sometimes this check-in was formally done in a circle; other times it was done more casually, depending on moods and energies. Following the more social period, the group focussed on yoga and dance. During these early sessions, the second episode involved theatre games and exercises to reconnect physical body to relatively unstructured play and physical communication. The mid-section of our evenings together was the main “container” for our work. This period held our performative inquiries for a particular evening. Once time was taken to connect bodies and their presences in the space, aspects of theatre were rehearsed. After the initial three months of games and exercises, explorations into what theatre included were added to what the group did for an additional II meetings. Closing Our Threshold World Through the use of quiet instrumental music, nature sounds, a guided meditative process and deep breathing and reflecting, our weekly meetings came to a close. Each evening, 79the process began by moving individuals’ focus to inside the space. For an intense period, there was much collective interaction and learning. Gradually, the concentration returned to individual mind-bodies’ preparation for rejoining their day-to-day lives. Occasionally, as co-searchers focussed on breathing and feeling, I asked them to sense their bodies pressing against the floor. When ready, they were requested to roll on their sides. Continuing with their eyes closed and finding a pen and paper beside them, each envisioned the imprint of their body on the floor. Through a process of elimination, each person’s sketch was identified. Observations made about each person’s sketch were interesting. For some, pieces of bodies were “missing.” For others, shapes were reminiscent of the fetal position (a dependence) or of a silhouette of defiance. This was done several times with diverse responses. Cast members realized shapes reflected people in a particular session, rather than a consistent vision. Sources of Understanding Interpretations within this study were from: • Field notes taken throughout the process (audio taped, each lasting, on average, 30 minutes of reflection for a total of 17 hours of audiotape or 200 pages of field notes). • Two sets of 45-minute interviews with regard to mental health clients and one set of 30-minute interviews relating to the embedded counsellors (total taping time was 15 hours or 250 pages of member interviews) • Fifteen one-hour interviews with audience members (total taping time was 15 hours or 250 pages of audience interviews. • Documents constructed during the process included 45 flipchart pages, the three versions of scene descriptions; 7 newspaper articles/reviews done with regard to the play, and letters and notes from participants. • Three video tapes of the two different performances: the first was of the 2-hour dress rehearsal carried out on May 10, 2004; the second 80was the 2-hour recording of the main May 2003 performance; the third was one of the 90-minute fringe presentations in September 2003. With all the information constructed and gathered, the reflecting and interpreting for this writing emerged into the following process. The first stage of reflection came from cast members’ understanding of life within mental diversity. Through much of what was discussed, a show presenting the group’s performative inquiry was displayed for community “reading.” As the production evolved, the view of scenes and acts (Appendix H) were conjured through the deciphering of understanding to deepen the symbolism and meaning of experience. Thoughts From the Field The words, jointly constructed through conversation, interaction and performance were recorded. Repetitively attending to each word of an interview and performance video co creates a strong understanding of language and meaning. Repeatedly listening to and reading the text, co-created and performed in the field, is an opportunity to peel back layers of awareness. Each block quote was numbered so I could refer back to it, if needed. As I engaged with the words, phrases, metaphors and stories of cast members, I wrote various interpretive, process, and notes about meaning (Figure 10). A search continued into understanding the experience of making popular theatre through reflecting upon “moments of recognition” in the story. Conceptual Interpretation The last phase of my interpretation moved from the level of questions to the emerging relationships around the connections of identity, voice, and personal power. Lastly, interconnections informing the guiding question (What shfls occur within a group of 81rural adults living with mental disorder(s) as it developed andpresented an absurdist popular theatre community production?) and purposes (to disrupt “normal” ways of thinking about psychiatric diversity by challengingprevailing notions ofmental “illness” and (ii) create better relationships between psychiatrically diagnosed and other people) framed this study. 2 _________ z . rj) C 0 I ___ _ • IDENTITY • VOICE • PERSONAL POWER RESEARCH QUESTION Labels & Memos Figure 10: Analysis process of textual data Cast Reflections A key source of “analysis,” or reflective interpretation, was the cast members. Through telling their stories, performative inquiring within theatre created opportunities for embodied interstanding of narratives. Most notable was the relationship of psychiatric survivors within the mental mainstream. By interpreting responses of others around them, considered as “normal,” the group became aware of parts of themselves previously hidden. Interpretations of experience revealed by this research were the performance. Twenty-seven scenes covering topics including: (un)employment, caring relationships, 82politics, money, and futures of people diagnosed, or labelled, with mental disorders created an album of clearly focussed vignettes of life. Audience Reflections Between two and twelve weeks following the main show, a series of 15 sixty-minute interviews (one on one and focus groups) were carried out. Interviews were semi- structured with much of the conversation remaining open for audience members as they reflected on the show. Typically, spectators covered initial expectations, impressions, what was and was not liked, key moments of insight and general comments. A Bare Wallfor Enactive Interpretation Once the notes and ideas were made and gathered together, finding a large surface to work on was critical. Living in a large, old house our upstairs hallway ran for twenty feet and was nine feet high. Surely 180 square feet was enough! I transferred all the reflections, ideas, and thoughts (numbering 347) to index cards and taped them up on the wall’s expanse in a chaotic and random way. I used time to let those pieces of insight to literally sift into some sense of whole. Occasionally, a reflection changed as it resonated with similar ideas on the wall. When I made amendments, I went back to the original interview or performance to pull the quote from where the original notion emerged. In this way, words from the field were gradually “pulled through” my interpretations and reflections into this writing. Facilitator Reflections Time played a central role in making sense of bits of concepts scribbled on paper. During this period of my reflecting, I brought in three key ideas emerging from the work: voice, 83identity, and personalpower. As I read and re-read the index cards organized on the wall before me, I slowly moved ideas I felt fit under one or other of the three concepts. Sometimes notions appeared within more than one category. In these cases, copies of themes were made so they appeared under more than one label; sometimes all three received the same card. At times, papers shifted back and forth several times among reflections because of ambiguity. This uncertainty continued even as later processes began. After each week’s session, I used a Dictaphone to record immediate thoughts, impressions and process ideas for future meetings. Once orally noted, these were transcribed to deepen my reflections. Included were emotional moments, tensions, doubts, successes and connections, which led profound theoretical reflecting. Initial reflections involved notions of identity, voice and power within the conceptual framework of critical disability theory and psychiatric impairments. From these reflections, my writing began to make further connections resulting in this report. Emerging Possibilities Once all the interpretations were distributed among the three anchoring concepts of voice, identity, and personalpower, questions were created. Within the main theme of identity, additional queries emerged, for example, why are cast members continually perceived as scary like those portrayed on TV, and not capable, creative, able to contribute to the town, and as having skills? When one considers the suggestions the cast made for society to help them live better (Table 7), it is clear, more listening to their stories and advice needs to occur. The same exercise was carried out within power and voice. Questions emerged to deepen the interstanding of mental diversity by the co-searchers, audience 84and me. Once queries were found, each grouping was interpreted. It was to these new reflections my attention shifted. I was curious about how these questions related to one another and to the overarching direction. What were the relationships supporting voice, power, and identity? How did fear and new awareness of capabilities support or negate self-concept? Summary This chapter lays out steps taken within this study over a one-year period. My purposes were to disrupt “normal” ways of thinking about psychiatric diversity by challenging prevailing notions of mental “illness” and create better relationships between psychiatrically diagnosed and other people. To achieve these aims, I had to focus on bonding with the local community before any research could take place. Each stage within the process was described, as were divisions within weekly meetings. Sources of “data” construction were highlighted and the reflections that drew on these interstandings described. The importance of cast, audience and personal reflections drew this chapter to a close in preparation of a more detailed exploration of what occurred within this inquiry. Chapter 4 explores how and where connections were made within the inquiry. These moments ofrecognition supported the popular performance involving psychiatric survivors’ life experiences and reflective “reading” of the mainstream. 85CHAPTER FOUR CHAOTIC COMPLEXITY: CO-SEARCHING IN THE CROSSROADS “... then all ofa sudden people came and they sat around the garden and then we were standing by what we hadplanted and then there was a show and it was like nobody realized it until the end and we were like how ‘d that happen? “(TaIIuIah, Interview 6, p. 4). Introduction The previous chapter discussed procedures used within this performative inquiry. In this chapter, the focus is a reflective composition of what we, as a group, did and how dynamics of relationship and learning co-evolved as members explored histories and experiences among cast members. Associations of meaning and processes for making sense of what occurred are also covered. The first part of the chapter reviews the cast’s development and the co-researching it conducted. The gradual evolution that emanated from the weekly inquiries led to the group’s uniquely heightened understanding of the world. As within an enactivist mode, the environment of the group affected the emergence of learning, while broadening potential for opportunities on the horizon (Sumara & Davis, 1 997a) as described in Chapter 2. Grounding ideas create relationships supporting three themes. Power, identity, and voice are woven together from a particular vantage point: Chapter 5 explores the perspective of the co-searchers, Chapter 6 offers views from audience members and Chapter 7 are my reflections. Like any process where individuals previously unknown to one another come together, the evolution was not easy, smooth, or predictable. This process was tentative, open, flexible and, yet, bounded within a particular context. 86Emergent Chaos as Home Place I arrived in this project with my own biases about mental “illness.” Through the education I received, working with the group, my awareness grew as to how much of my own understanding drew from the pervasive influence of media characterizations of individuals with psychiatric diagnoses. In those early days of working together, I subtly learned to change my demeanour from speaking softly, being over-cautious with my use of language and standing just a little farther away, to being up front and open with my own experience and what I did not know. As group members shared their experiences of everyday living, framing everything within mental disorder gradually made sense for me. Co-searchers explored life issues, not mental ones. Initially though, I was guilty of what society, generally, did when faced with someone labelled as mentally “ill.” I’ve been in Duncan for a long time, and I lived with General Deliveryfor ten years. At the post office - the post office in town. A lot ofpeople with mental illness get their mail there. There was general delivery. ... There was . . .people who... some people who find them scary. Some people like Cary. . .find people . . .find him scary looking ‘cause he ‘s very tall and big and he ‘s got wild hair and at first he had the wild beard. But you see I have known Cary for twenty-five years or more. So it ‘s easier. Like I said some ofthese people [in the cast] I’ve known or met before. (Josette, p. 5) I had to understand key issues before supporting the group effectively. Members live with impairments. More profound is society’s handicapping attitudes because it forecloses a person’s identity and opportunity. Within those first few meetings, much was open to negotiation. Jean, a social worker accompanying many in the cast, pulled me aside at the end of the first evening to ask if I could change the rehearsal structure. From my notes, I gleaned the following points: 87Thefour hour blocks too long. We need to shorten them to two hours. Oh.... and twice a week too many. Let’s aim for once a week... While energy levels for most people dissipate later in the day, many living with psychiatric disorders experience a more pronounced drop in stamina. Four hours was a long time to be active during this low-energy period. The beginning time of 6:30 p.m. was well suited as it was shortly after dinner at the Open Door and early enough for the group to engage in physical activity. However, Jean suggested sessions be cut to two hours and once a week. As the group became more accustomed to the activity, the time was extended to three hours or more, but months later. Another issue raised, by Jean, was the necessity to find another space for our meetings. Within the community centre (our first meeting location), the rehearsal hail was also the “green room” for incoming professional arts companies, which required constant shuffling of the group to other rooms in the building whenever a road tour was in town. Adding to the initial chaos, the group shifted the days it met in a given week because of scheduling conflicts. While it was not the best situation, confusion was reduced with a printed schedule. Changes to routines were not handled well by individual group members. Inconsistency had to be minimized Oh.... and switching rooms and some days too complicated. The group needs consistency predictability. 88Let’s move to another space And so a new meeting place was found, which allowed us to establish a set schedule. By moving to a new location, relational power was transformed because all members entered a new space together. No one had a past attachment to it, yet all of us “owned” the future of our new place. Within the new location, everyone took part in the development of the group’s ritual of meeting weekly. So began the perpetual shifting, shaping, and opening up of the process used within our explorations. The experience of learning to work together, collaboratively, was found through the group holding hands as one; all leading and being led by one another, no individual in complete control of the process. The research project quickly stopped being my venture; it became our collective experience and our ritual. Yet, one other major obstacle existed, which I had not previously anticipated. Prejudice does reside within all individuals, including a group such as this, and was presented during the first round of cast interviews. ....I’ll tell you now... I’m homophobic...yeah to a certain extent and ....the voices kept calling me queer... and for some reason ... call me queer, faggot and stuff Andfor some reason ... it was the most hurtful thing that they could say to me. And ... and ... and it ... and it would hammer at me day and night you know ... and then I tried to commit suicide with .pills... so you know ... so it was something along those lines.. .you don ‘t have to use that exact example but . . .you know . . .you know ... when you get that negative voice in your head ... you know it can really ... really get to you ... you know. Like it was . . .for some reason ... it was the worst thing that ... that someone could call me. It still irritates me you know when somebody calls me that today. Like it’s ... I don ‘t know why I ... but that ‘s the button that I got. The worst thing that you could call me.... like I’ve got nothing against any... you know... whether you’re ... straight or gay or whatever but for some reason it pisses me off... when people call me that know and ... I wasn’t taking medication for years and and this woman ‘s voice kept calling me gay or queer or whatever you know. And ... for some reason it was the worst thing that this ... voice in my head could call me. And therefore you know ... so you know . . .you 89could use whatever you want to you know.. .just I guess everybody’s got a soft spot for something negative and that happened to be mine soft spot. And you know . . .you know ... .1 ... that was a bad experience (Buster2, p. 9). Buster, the first member of the group, discussed what he described as the worst insult someone could throw at him: faggot. He readily stated he was homophobic. When someone placed the label on him it would “hammer at me day and night” (Buster 2, p. 9) to the point he tried to commit suicide. Initially, I worried that Buster’s homophobia would negatively affect the group, or in his relationship with me. However, having others in the group being gay or lesbian did not seem to matter throughout the life of the cast. Despite Buster’s struggles around homophobia, everyone in the cast became friends. Through our own uniqueness, members learned something of the “other,” because of our similarities as well as our differences. Ordered Chaos: Where The Study Resides Popular theatre and performative inquiry begins with the body-context. The physicality of marginality was where our work began: in the murkiness of biographies, expectations, comforts and risk. The first eleven meetings of our exploring, were spent becoming acquainted with a room full of strangers: to transform our assembly of individuals into a collective. Our physical, interacting, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and psychological beings within the emergent ritual were in flux continually. Space was often messy, tentative, questioning, risk-filled, and chaotic. The air contained much laughter, sensitivity, encouragement, support, animation, playing, and fun. As time progressed, the structure evolved through a ritual being called forth each time the group came together. Early in the process, the power of physical communication and meaning making became evident. An early exercise was the Boalian “Hypnosis” activity, whereby one 90person held up a hand in front of the face of her/his partner. The person staring at the hand became “hypnotized.” This person followed wherever the hand “led.” The “hypnotizer” was effectively in “control” of another. A variation of this activity was when one person was “hypnotizing” two people simultaneously by having each participant use both hands to guide the faces of two people. Everyone took turns leading and following. The marked sense of power over others was profound for group members. It’s awesome to know that I can have this much power over someone else. I always thought that I had to follow orders. (Amelia, Interview 20, p. 4) Within our performance, pill bottles replaced hands guiding the face of a person; they became a symbol of psychiatric control over bodies and thoughts. This experience was the first of several exercises evolving into production elements because of its relevance to members. The Vessel Holding Our Explorations The process that unfolded was elusive. It is impossible to point to any particular activity or series of drama exercises and say this is what created interstanding. Naming our shared performative experience was not as important as “feeling” that something was occurring. Our inquiries into physical expression “contained” our weekly play-full and creative efforts. Tallulah described the group’s evolution like planting a garden. it was as fnobody knew that you were planting... like a garden right. Like it was as if... it seemed to me ... I don ‘t know about everybody else but it was like . . .you know you were like ... you were like ... okay everybody come and run on the mud and then it was like you know you ‘d . . .you ‘d be like here ...andyou would put seeds in our pockets... like the socks in our pockets for playing tag ... that’s what it was like. And so the seeds were there ... and then all ofa sudden ... you know ... the sun would come and the rain would come and the sun would come and the rain would come and that would be the therapy. When we were talking about our good days and our bad days ... and we didn ‘t realize that all ofthis ... you know 91everything was growing in the garden. And then all of a sudden people came and they sat around the garden and then we were standing by what we hadplanted and then there was a show and it was like nobody realized it until the end and we were like - how ‘d that happen? (Tallulah 2, p. 11) The metaphor Bette used was baking. I think what you did was you helped bring it together ... .you were theflour in the cake mix you know we were all a bunch of little eggs and milk and all those other kinds of things but you were the solidfying agent ... in all of that ... you helped ... so like ... okay you know we were dripping over the edges ... you would bring us back into the bowl and mix us together and get us baked you know ... that was kind of the idea right (Bette, p. 7) Reviewing the early sessions and the mid-point of our time together, games and exercises that I introduced to the group involved playing with rhythm, blind games, trust exercises, fast games such as tag, listening exercises like Ha, observing as within Falling, slow motion tag and foot races, the ability to physically work together in the Circle of Knots, Person-to-Person, Sticky Paper and so on. The intent was to keep the atmosphere alive and fun with games, both physical and sensory, while working from the individual toward group work. Also, during the second and third stages when the group was exploring theatrical expression and developing a performance these exercises reappeared. The middle hour of our weekly time together allowed for this burst of energy and animation to occur. The middle six of our nine months were more performance oriented. Theatre processes became the focus for the mid hour. For about eleven meetings, games shifted to include practicing using emotions, interacting within imagined situations, dance and movement, telling stories, voice, and working with bodies to create meaning. Some early discoveries within this work included the realization by participants that emotions can be controlled. 92The Emotional Walk During this exercise, (Figure 11) members wrote words containing labelled emotions on large sheets of paper and scattered these on the floor. The object of the exercise was to work in pairs, carry on a conversation and work through a variety of emotions as the twosome spoke about favourite movies, food and so on. Each pair suggested a topic of conversation and walked around the room chatting. As they stepped on or over a sheet of paper with a particular emotion, the conversational tone shifted to reflect the feeling. igure 11: Emotional walk The first phase the couple walked slowly around the room, shifting their emotions. The second phase was a fast walk around the room carrying on the same thing, and finally the couples ran through the space shifting emotions rapidly as they went. Amelia found the experience to be a “moment of recognition.” I discovered that I can control my emotions — I always believed that emotions controlled me and that’s why I alwaysfeel out ofcontrol... now I canjust tell myselfwhat I want tofeel (Amelia, Interview 20, p. 7) She believed emotions were out of her control; they managed her actions. For Amelia, this became a significant shift in her understanding of herself. To find she could turn feelings off and on was novel and powerful for her as well as for Joan. okay that reminds me of that ... recently we ‘ye done it twice. When you .you know run around.. .first of all we write down c4fferent feelings. You write down . . .you know ... happy, sad, or whatever ... love ... . and learning how to portray it. And then seeing which ones you can really do. For me it was which ones I could do convincingly and then learning something 93about myself.. .you know ... I think there ‘s a lot ofanger around ... having to have this illness for me. Yeah ... dealing with it ... and ... then I thought oh gosh I can .. .1 can either do like the really angry people ... and the.. really happy . . .you know ... but the in-between emotions .. .1found really hard to portray . . .you know. Like ..I don ‘t know how other people do it but you alsofeed offthe person you are doing it with too... (Joan 1, p. 8) Joan experienced emotions as part of relating between people, so feelings were not solely embodied in one person or another, but arose from within interactions among members. Nor were emotions the result of one person. Two or more people engaged together were responsible for one another’s moods. Both Amelia and Joan created deeper awareness around this leading up to the popular performance. Bodyguards Another exercise involved a group of five. One person stood with four others; one on either side of the first person, one behind and another in front, all looking in the same direction. The middle person began to move with the others acting as bodyguards, mirroring what the middle person did, turning their heads as little as possible. Tallulah found this exercise powerful because one person had control over four other bodies. That exercise we do in fives — that mirror exercise — that is so awesome — without saying a word other people follow what I do — that’s powerful (Tallulah, Interview 12, p. 8). Jean thought the bodyguard exercise could be used as a dance piece for the show. The Bodyguards exercise ultimately did become a robotic movement piece in Shaken depicting the automaton-like nature of employed society. We ‘ye got to do this in the show — I love doing the bodyguards — it really is connected to movement and how worlds get constructed through movement and how bodies get positioned to serve particular needs — Tallulah and I can work on a movement piece (Jean, infield notes, page 45) 94Have You Seen My Friend The game Have You Seen My Friend was played many times and was Fruit bowl with the name altered. The idea and action of searching for allies and friendships struck a chord for everyone in the group. A turn was carried out through a person walking around the circle of group members (all are looking inward to the centre of the circle), then stopping, and tapping one of the members on the shoulder. The person turns around to listen to the individual outside the circle. The player outside the circle asked the tapped participant, “Have you seen my friend?” The person singled out responded, “No, what do they look like?” The answer from the seeker was, “Well, they wear (blue jeans, red, glasses, shoes, sandals, etc.)” Everyone wearing what was described in the circle had to run the circumference of the circle and get back to a spot before other people running the circle took all available places. The suspense-filled cue of “Have you seen my friend?” coupled with screaming, laughing and joy was not lost on any member of the group. We were among friends: we could stop looking. This was the humbling power of working collectively. Bombardment This exercise explored relationships captured in phrases combined with physicality. A person selected a role or person to name. Group members thought of possible people in a fictionalized person’s life and developed a phrase likely to be spoken within a particular relationship. Lastly, a physical shape or posture to reflect the inner personality of each relationship was portrayed through a frozen image. The central person to all the relationships stood in the centre of the circle of the group. One at a time, and randomly, group members in their “roles” walked in, held his/her posture, said a phrase and returned 95to the outer edge of the circle. This allowed each person to try out a role briefly and return to him-/herself. Gradually, and with increasing intensity the “cast” went in twos and then threes to speak their phrases and hold their positions before returning to the outer circle. Eventually, the entire group was huddled around the central person, and bombarded the person with various phrases and postures all at once. Each person received an opportunity to try it out, not everyone did. Contrary to other exercises creating a sense of power fullness, this exercise created the opposite. Often the centre person put him-/herself in a position of subservience and powerlessness. The exercise was a depiction of their collective erasure within society. They were spoken to or about, rather than with. This feeling, coupled with the bombardment exercise, was an incarnation of the reality of schizophrenia for those living with a label and disorder. Rather than leave the exercise in what could have been a negative experience, I asked if there was something instructive in this, to turn into a moment of performative excavation educating an audience. Immediately the response was “yes.. .turn the audience into a type of schizophrenic brain.. .turn the exercise outward toward the spectators.” So began an early element within the performance; what would ultimately turn into the opening act: “Freak Show” (Appendix H). Quickly, the group realized two important lessons: The first lesson was they learned to stop asking me, handing their power to me, “What are YOU lookingfor?” The second was they took control over the process as they contributed to the making of the performance, “I don ‘t like that, let’s try this. “No notion existed for what was sought, so there was no idea what the result was. The search had to be co-created and carried out collectively. This meant all had an opportunity to contribute. Everyone’s 96offering was equal to any other person’s. At times a unilateral decision had to be made (but what the decision was and its rationale was discussed with the group), but as much as possible, opportunity existed to veto if the group did not agree. Dissent was encouraged. Through working together, the question evolved to, “What is THE GROUP lookingfor?” The emotional exercise was typical of this, as were voice projection exercises and our practice in breathing and use of vocal resonators. The separation of our voice work from physicality was important so speaking did not mask or reduce the powerful effects of bodies. With regard to physicality, members began their work with sculpting, initially through mirror exercises earlier on. Complete The Image From general mirror exercises participants moved to an exercise called Complete the Image. This process is a series of frozen sculptures, whereby one person stands in the centre of a circle in a frozen shape or posture. A second participant steps in and adds to the first person, “completing” the image. The first person drops away and a third person enters, adding to the remaining person and so on. Nothing was labelled. Everything was simply responded to. When striking something occurred in the shifting images, the person who noticed was encouraged to speak about it or describe it. What thoughts and emotions had the sculpture conjured? A key moment occurred during our Halloween meeting when fewer than usual people participated. We were playing with Complete The Image (Figure 12) ideas and the shift moved from a heavily religious moment with a priest in a communal pose to a devil with a knife in a stabbing pose. The group froze in silence. Then, it dawned on all, 97why name it? Why reduce it to words? Let the contradiction exist in a “stopped” moment. Let it disappear, but hold on to its emotional, mental, and experiential meaning-moment that had united all profoundly. IFiure 12: Completing the image From general exercises group members moved into thematically completing the image, as was the case with Amelia’s poem, The Soul ofan Artist, in which she compared suicide to a blizzard. To finish the story of these sculptures, the poem Amelia had formed through words cut from magazines, Soul ofan Artist.. . .being likened to a blizzard the whole episode was tied to the theme of her past attempted suicide. The people pulling and helping in the tableaux were aiding others through pangs of wanting to kill themselves. She stated people read her poem and thought, “oh that’s nice,” but did not understand the meaning and impulse behind Amelia’s writing: her suicide attempts. I was so enthralled with suicide ... I mean it was like a fantasy to me suicide was a fantasy and I was going through all the magazines cause they’ve got tons ofmagazines out there and I was cutting out words and so when I cut the words out ... then I kept moving them around and until I finally got it to how I wanted it ... and glued it on a piece of black paper and ... but and ... and I but I was so surprised that nobody knew what it was ... they ‘d read it and go that ‘s nice ... you know and or that’s poetic but nobody knew and that ‘s kind ofsort ofhow it is with suicide ... nobody knows the kind of pain and then when you ‘re told ... then it’s whoa...(Amelia 1, p. 13) 98The first stages of physical work incorporated static symbols, using these to capture meaning, information, and interstanding. The latter part of performative learning shifted from static imagery into interactive performance. Through these interactions, this performative inquiry incorporated popular theatre. Before the ending of our rehearsals, the final stage of our weekly ritual involved a cooling down and wrapping up period (see the previous chapter). Making Sense Of Where Lives (in Rehearsal) Traversed Bridging between the earlier phases and acquiring tools for a popular performance involved an exercise incorporating language, physical movement and spontaneity. The Delphi, involved reaching consensus through movement and negotiation in silence. In simple form, the Delphi process is described in Table 4. During our two-week break for the holidays, the group shrank: one member was travelling 50 km from Victoria, but winter driving proved difficult over the mountain between the city and the group meetings in Duncan; another member experienced a medication shift and turned to self-medication; and another found the two-hour sessions, once a week, fatiguing. The group’s number needed replenishing. Advertisements appeared in local newspapers. Several people joined as the cast began to engage with theatre making. While recent joiners did not have a history of working together, most had known some of the group or knew of the process. Connections aiding in integrating new members were made. Also, supporting these new people was the warm, generous and supportive nature of the group. An openness and recognition others benefited by being in this group were realized. In order to move ahead, while creating a “new” sense of group, 99January was spent on bonding exercises from earlier in the process. This also helped the original members reconnect after some time away from the group. Table 4 Delphi Technique Procedure 1. Have each person write one word/phrase, one per index card, up to about 10 to 15 per person - related to the broad topic being investigated. For our group, the topic was mental disorder. 2. Collect and shuffle all the cards 3. Randomly display the cards on a wall or floor 4. Have the group read all the card ideas without talking 5. Have the group slowly begin to cluster similar ideas together without talking 6. Once the large grouping is clustered have the group go through one more time and shift cards around if they see any needing to be moved, again no talking 7. Once the clusters have been finalized, have the group connect the card batches together so the first one is the least important and the last bunch is the most, without talking Once steps 1-7 are complete, then open the group for dialogue and discussion. What usually transpired remained even after people had a chance to speak. The most important cluster became the topic or overarching idea from where the performance grew and evolved. In preparation for the performance Jean, a counsellor with a dance background, offered to lead the group through movement exercises. Yoga continued, but dance (modern and ballet) was included. Working in a large school gymnasium, the group felt lost. The space was too big. To limit the space, members decided to “corral” one corner with six gym benches where people could sit facing each other, while exploring topics within the cordoned space. Through January and February 2003 (eight sessions), the cast 100 THE I)ELPHI TECHNIQUEidentified topics they wanted to explore for possible inclusion in the popular performance. All discussions during this time were put on a flipchart. Occasionally, one or more members worked through scenes in the space. The more intense improvisation flowed from the group openly talking. The co-searchers uncovered the pervasive use of rituals in their lives: • Families construct rituals ofexclusion promoting mental diversity as a “burden” and source of embarrassment to friends and neighbours. • Diagnosing as episodic identity rituals ofpassage spanning years whereby an individual goes through shifting and multiple categorizations labelling, without ever knowing what condition one’s body contains. • Prescribing drugs as rituals ofexperimentation involving tinkering with prescriptions and exchanging psychotropic drugs in the hopes something “takes.” A survivor’s body “tells” the psychiatrist when things are “correct.” • Calming “normal” people in social situations through a ritual ofsafety involving protecting “sane” people from their fears involving individuals with mental labels being dangerous and threatening. One evening, with a new person’s arrival, co-searchers were engaged in a round of mental health-related topics. A new person just beginning working with the group declared she didn’t feel “sick.” Other people labelled her in ways with which she did not identify. Why was her perspective “wrong”? She expressed pride in being “different” to others. For her, this was normal. This began a discussion about “mental pride.” Why is this never allowed? Why must it be illness or tragedy? With all this talk of mental illness. I disagree. All I hear is mental illness that needs curing. But I don ‘tfeel sick! Why can ‘t we be proudfor being different. Not less important. I don ‘t evenfeel sick. (Sally, 2003) If gays and lesbians can create power with the word, “Queer,” then they are able through a word used to punish them, regain a sense of power through language. This 101resulted in the discussion of the word “mental.” They were proud too. Many great artists and thinkers lived with so-called mental “illnesses” and were celebrated. Celebrated... Why couldn ‘t we celebrate? And so began in earnest our road toward a community celebration All people are worthwhile. (Bette) All lives are worthwhile. (Tallullah) We are worthwhile. (Bette) The mad wealthy go to Switzerlandfor talk therapy. The madpoor go to Riverviewfor drugs and ECT (Cary) Living without hope that’s mental illness. (Amelia) Illness is created.... Victims are constructed. (Sally) To help propel the mood forward the cast decided they would show how “normal” society behaved. To illustrate their point they looked to the ritual of modern romance. The centrepiece was a “romance advertisement,” which spoofed mainstream pieces they saw in the media. The twist was the title: “Mental Seeking Mental” (Appendix G). From this black humour exercise arose a series of related topics members experienced or had heard about: • Psychiatric survivors are constructed as “non-sexual” people. • Women with a psychiatric diagnosis are told to not have children, raising the history of sterilization among mental “defectives.” • Sex between a “normal” person and a psychiatric survivor raises the notion of “infecting” the “healthy” population with “pathogens.” • Sexual and romantic relationships involving one person with a psychiatric diagnosis and another without, is perceived by “normals” to be full of potential violence and harm. 102• The lover of someone with a diagnosis is said to be the “strong” one taking on the “burden” of care giving. Love is considered to be a chore. A thunderclap — a stopped moment - of awareness erupted when Sally arrived but could not stay. Shortly after she had been diagnosed with a mental disorder, her family disowned her. Nearly twenty years later, her daughter called to say she needed her mom. One evening on the phone with me for . . .well. . .a long time . . . .Sally choked back tears as she relayed her message. Sidney, I’m so sorry. I’ve finally found a place that has welcomed me, wants me, values me and I have to say good-bye. Please say good-bye to the others and I wish them well. If I had money I would gladly give it to you to keep going on. Because you have to keep going on. You don ‘t know how valuable what you ‘re doing is for the group, do you? Whatever you do.. .just keep going. After all these years, my daughter needs me. I have to take this opportunity to go back to myfamily because they need me. Now. I’m going home. But you must go on — I can give you some money fyou want help... (Sally, field notes, p. 67) We talked more about the group’s plans as well as her future and joy with regard to reuniting with her family. I was happy for Sally, but sad for not having her in our group. She was the one that gave a most important present to the group; the gift of prodding, thinking about individual and group pride and enactively shifting the way the group looked at itself and its relation to society. It is fitting to end this part of our journey with her words: What is all this talk about illness? I don ‘tfeel ill. Why do we have to be ill? Why does everyone treat me as though everything about me is sick? Mental illness is a source ofsupport and is a positive support ofpride. I’m proud to be dfferent in one way — but I’m the same in far more ways. Why can ‘t people notice me — see me for who Jam... we are? (Sally, field notes, p. 58) The Poultry Barn Dynamics changed when our work moved to the poultry barn, our performance space. The shift in location and space created a different work atmosphere. 103The floor was poured concrete. The walls and high peaked ceiling inside were all whitewashed. Both ends of the barn had large twin doors that ran on a track completely opening the barn outward into the fairgrounds. There were power outlets evenly spaced along both sides of the wall. A small power room was in one corner with a potential performance area on the roofofthat space. We had one half lengthwise, ofthe barn. The second half was normally locked, though we would end up using the locked halfas our storage space for props, costumes, lights, and set pieces. There was no washroom facility — that was had by walking several hundred yards away to a concrete washroom facility that was locked — out in the middle of the parking lot - there were also some stacked wire poultry cages beside the barn ...perhaps we could hang signs reading “Solitary Confinement” for the waiting audience ...(Field notes, p. 43) The building housed prize-winning poultry during the annual fall fair in Duncan. Like most barns, the floor was made of poured concrete. The walls were heavily whitewashed boards. Numerous electrical plugs were found and the open-raftered ceiling held lots of lights. The cast bought a number of halogen work lights as the stage lights for the popular performance. The barn was split into two with sliding doors opening up both sides. We performed in one side, while using the other as a big storage for props and costumes and as a change room during the show. We moved to this location in early April, when evening temperatures would fall to 50 degrees Celsius. We dressed warmly and continued in the “blank canvas” of space (Figure 13). Figure 13: The cast setting up in the barn While the building worked well for a location, it was less conducive to lying or sitting still on, particularly during the first month when the cast began rehearsals. The 104barn was not heated and our meetings occurred during the evenings. If members kept moving, most people endured the cold. Poured concrete, constituting the floor, emanated coldness. To lie on this and meditate was impossible. As a result, our closure process was amended. Instead, the group discussed the performance’s progress and what lay ahead. Cast members “closed” the “container” of our times together by linking the end of one rehearsal to the next through discussions of what occurred in a current evening and what needed to be done. It paled in comparison to our previous closing process when we met in the school gymnasium and was missed by some participants when the shift was made. The absence of the more pronounced closure during the final stretch of our overall time together reinforced the power and necessity of this dynamic when constructing a ritual of learning and insight (Figure 14). The play was recorded twice. A fringe festival recording is attached to the back cover of this document. Figure 14: “Feeling” the barn space Reflections, Interpretations, Possibilities The research methodology of this study involved performative inquiry. Table 5 summarizes the themes and performative questions the group explored that assisted with developing and putting on the performance. Within the group’s meetings, various queries emerged that the group wanted to explore more fully. From these experiences, dramatic 105Table 5 Cast’s Results of Their Performative Inquiry as Illustrated in the Show “SHAKEN: NOT DISTURBED... with a twist!” SHOW’S SCENE TITLE DESCRIPTION OF CAST’S RATIONALE FOR THE SCENE INCLUSION Freak Show Dark Space, Hysterical Screams, Have to throw audience off- Hospital Sounds, Actors roam among balance to be open to the play; audience members as they set up their remind people of the history chairs (and from where attitudes come). How far has society come? Theme: Role of History Fantasy of Dreams Blue Light, darkened room, Kate Attached to some of those Bush song “Under Ice”... Working in contemplating suicide is the idea Pairs — Mime tensions and being of fantasy — being disconnected trapped. and of being a burden to others. Why does a feeling of burden exist? Is leaving the solution or a bigger problem? Theme: Suicide Travelogue Through History A monologue by character in a lab Who is mad? Is it possible to coat about the entwined history of serve two masters: curing illness, mental “illness” and psychiatry. becoming legitimate and Featured are the series of “attempts” powerful? at curing madness. Ends with speaker being sunmioned for his medication. Theme: Construction of Power Diagnosis Dance A music number set up as ajig How is illness constructed? danced by doctors in lab coats. Song Do doctors understand as used is “Jig of Life” whereby doctors medical labels are assigned, so begin austere and solemn and then are identities? Why is diagnosis when the jig begins dances out to so inexact? Is diagnosis the audience and makes diagnoses and lifeblood of the medical prescriptions in a flurry of merriment. profession? Theme: Labelling How “They” Talk About “Us” Precursor to the “Buster” series of Why do people speak at others scenes — takes audience through the perceived as different as though major challenge of finding they’re not human? What is the employment. Monologue in the form fear? Theme: Employment of Job Interview. Looking For Work Inside an El offi