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

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RURAL ADULT POPULAR EDUCATION PERFORMATIVELY INQUIRINGINTO PSYCHIATRIC EXPERIENCESbySTEVEN EDWARD NOBLEB.A.A. (Honours) (Business) Ryerson Polytechnical University, 1986M.A. (Adult Education) University of British Columbia, 1998A THESIS SUBMITTED iN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Educational Studies)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAJuly, 2006© Steven Edward Noble, 2006ABSTRACTProblem: Psychiatrically diagnosed people living in rural Canada are often silenced orrendered invisible. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to: (i) disrupt “normal”ways of thinking about psychiatric diversity and (ii) create better relationships betweenpsychiatric survivors and other people. These aims were achieved by staging a populartheatre production in a chicken barn.Conceptual Approach: This study was located in a radical humanist framing of criticaladult education and social relations. Radical humanism foregrounds human subjectivityand is committed to social change. The conceptual framework supporting the study wasarrayed as a pyramid. Radical humanism envelops the structure. At the base, wereinsights drawn from critical disability studies and rural sociology. The second tier pulledfrom critical pedagogy and popular adult education. Performativity sits on the thirdlevel. Popular theatre processes stepped the pyramid to the next level and the top iscomprised of Existentialism and absurdist theatre forms.Methodology: The methodology consisted of a performative inquiry that involved thestaging of, and learning within, an absurdist popular theatre production. Instead of an“ideal” polished performance, with elaborate staging, a “rough” performance evokedquestions, provoked meanings and generated new examinations. The research involvedsix stages - group formation, theatre “training,” performance development, presentation,post-production and social action.Results/Conclusions: i) Cast members appeared to become more autonomous, werefocused 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 otherindividuals negotiate experiences within their lives. ii) Spectators generalized similaritiesand contradictions evoked by the play to other life-settings. iii) The author scrutinized hisshifts in awareness as both facilitator and co-searcher. It was concluded that the disparityin understanding of what it means to be psychiatrically diagnosed by others in societyremains deep; theatre offers an opportunity to interrupt this discrimination. Through theinteractive popular performance experience, there was a lessening of fears andstereotyping that plague individuals labeled as “mentally ill.” This shift in therelationship between psychiatric survivors and others created an opening for groupmembers to reconnect to local society as citizens.11TABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT.iiTABLE OF CONTENTS iiiLIST OF TABLES xLIST OF FIGURES xiGLOSSARY xiiPREFACE xxvACKNOWLEDGEMENTS xxviDEDICATION xxviiCHAPTER ONE OVERVIEW OF THIS INQUIRY 1Introduction 1Purposes 2The Question 2Mental Diversity 4Mental Identity 7Mental Voice 9Mad/Mental Pride 11Rural Life 12Transitions 13New Country 14Methodology 15Performative Inquiry 15Adult Education 17Popular Theatre 20Absurdism 21111Procedures.23The Researcher-Participant 25Overview Of The Dissertation 27Summary 29CHAPTER TWO PERFORMING INQUIRIES OF (IN)SANITY 30Introduction 30Radical Humanism 31Popular Adult Education 34Andragogy 35Popular Education 38Performative Inquiry 43The Biological Roots ofPerformative Inquiry 45Enactivist Roots 46Knowledge Reconceptualized 47Popular Theatre: Collective Meaning-Making 52Contemplating Popular Theatre 53Barba ‘s Approach 54The Popular Theatre Process 56Forms of Absurdity To Inform Life 60Existentialism 60Absurdism ‘s Forms 64Summary: Adult Popular Education Performatively Inquiring 69CHAPTER THREE PROCEDURES: FOOTPRINTS OF THE STUDY 71Introduction 71Gathering the Co-Searchers 71ivHow Insights Were Unfolded.77Stages in the Process 78Entering the Liminality of our Work 79Closing Our Threshold World 79Sources of Understanding 80Thoughts From the Field 81Conceptual Interpretation 81Cast Reflections 82Audience Reflections 83A Bare Wall For Enactive Interpretation 83Facilitator Reflections 83Emerging Possibilities 84Summary 85CHAPTER FOUR CHAOTIC COMPLEXITY: CO-SEARCHINGIN THE CROSSROADS 86Introduction 86Emergent Chaos as Home Place 86Ordered Chaos: Where the Study Resides 90The Vessel Holding Our Explorations 91The Emotional Walk 93Bodyguards 94Have You Seen My Friend 94Bombardment 94Complete The Image 97Making Sense of Where Lives (in Rehearsal) Traversed 99VThe Poultiy Barn .103Reflections, Interpretations, Possibilities 105Summary 114CHAPTER FIVE CAST MEMBERS’ EVIDENCE OF PERFORMATIVEINQUIRY 116Introduction 116Comprehending Voice 117Suicide 117The Pull ofthe Closet 119Struggles of Voice 120Speaking As Dangerous Practice 123Acceptance of Identity 126From Make-Believe Comes Experiencing Self 126Mutual Support 129Normalized Identity 131Positive Self To Integrate L4fe 133Co-Searchers ‘ Response to Negative Reaction 135Straightforward Success 136Power To Influence 137Acceptance ofRisk Opens to Sense ofAutonomy 139Tenacity As Power 140Power In Labelling 143Emerging Autonomy 145Emotional Power 148Power ofCreativity 148Putting The Pieces Together 151viSummary .153CHAPTER SIX COMMUNITY EVIDENCE OF PERFORMATIVEINQUIRY 155Introduction 155The Scream of Silenced Voices 156An Evening’s Entertainment 157Silenced Voices In A Small Town 158Hearing Voices 159Risky Speaking 161Through Humour Comes Self 161Recognizing The Other In Ourselves 164See The Human Beyond The Label 165Reaffirming Belonging In A Rural Community 165Creating Creative Identities 167Being Positively Committed 168Ableist Fear Ableist Denial 169Struck By Pride 172Confronting Normally -Normally Confronting 173Relationship of Power 175Power In Political Satire 176Power In Silence— Bodies Speaking 177Power Through Play... In Play...As Play 178Where There Is Power: Resistance 180Emotional Strength 181Summary 184viiCHAPTER SEVEN MY INTERSTANDINGS AND MOMENTSOF RECOGNITION 185Introduction 185Acts of Silence: Stillness As Voice 186Respectfully Challenging 187Borders and Internal Transgressions of Identity 189Beginnings 190The Aloneness OfThe Process 191“Lightening Rod” 192The Nature OfChange 193Jack OfAll Roles, Master OfNone 194Seeking Legitimacy 196Constructing Power During Transgression 196Popular Theatre As Oppression? 198Internal Power Struggles 199Control Versus Power 200A Cathartic Moment 201Transient Power 202Performative Power 203Facilitator As Mentoring Influence 204Power In The “Non-Visible” 206Subtle Influences OfRural Space 207Relationships Found Within Voice-Identity-Power 208Emerging Sense ofPower Within Performativity 209Summary 210viiiCHAPTER EIGHT PERFORMING LIFE AFTER LIVING AN INQUIRY 212Implications For Praxis 212Opening Up Spaces: Opening Up Voices 213Identity Formation 215Gaining Power 218Implications For Rural Theorizing 223New Rural Realities 223Community Development 225Citizenship Roles 226Implications for Performative Inquiry As Methodology 226Adult Education Praxis 226Performative Inquiry 229Popular Theatre Praxis 232Existentialist/A bsurdist Forms 233Therapeutic Praxis 233Further Research Program 235Summary 236REFERENCES 238APPENDIX A INTRODUCTION TO METHODOLOGICAL OVERVIEW .254APPENDIX B CONSTRUCTIONS OF DISABILITY ANDMENTAL DISORDER 261APPENDIX C RURAL DISCOURSES IN CONTEXT 279APPENDIX D ETHICS CERTIFICATES 298APPENDIX E NEWSPAPER ADVERTISEMENT 301APPENDIX F INFORMED CONSENT FORM 302APPENDIX G MENTAL SEEKING MENTAL 306APPENDIX H LISTING OF THEMATIC SCENES 307APPENDIX I NEWSPAPER REVIEW OF THE PLAY 317ixLIST OF TABLESTable 1 A Comparison of Knowles’ Andragogical Assumptions andPrinciples in Relation to the Research 36Table 2 Why Do Adult Education and Performative Inquiry Co-exist Well7 37Table 3 Connecting Freirian Adult Education Principles to PerformativeInquiry Methodology, Popular Theatre Methods, AbsurdistForms to SHAKEN. NOT DISTURBED 40Table 4 Delphi Technique Procedure 100Table 5 Cast’s Results of Its Performative Inquiry as Illustratedin the show “SHAKEN: NOT DISTURBED... with a twist. 106Table 6 A Listing of Aha Moments and the Exercises That Evoked Them 111Table 7 The Handout Provided in the Show’s Program WithRecommendations for Helping Mentally Disordered PeopleLive Better Lives 113Table 8 “Aha” Moments and Relationships to Voice, Identity and Power 220xLIST OF FIGURESFigure 1 The cast rehearsing in the gym 24Figure 2 The cast rehearsing in the barn 24Figure 3 Theoretical relationships incorporated within the study 31Figure 4 A map of social change and education theory and philosophy withinfour broad approaches and the relationship among them 33Figure 5 A continuum of structure in adult education 35Figure 6 A diagram of Freire’s culture circle 38Figure 7 A popular theatre cycle 58Figure 8 Showing the relationships of key theories during the weekly rehearsalsin connection with co-searchers’ lives 67Figure 9 The opening circle 77Figure 10 Analysis process of textual data 82Figure 11 Emotional walk 93Figure 12 Completing the image 98Figure 13 The cast setting up in the barn 104Figure 14 “Feeling” the barn space 105Figure 15 Emerging relationships of voice, identity and powerthrough performative inquiry/popular theatre in the livesof psychiatric survivors 153xiGLOSSARY OF TERMSDisabilityGlossary Term Glossary DefinitionCITIZEN/CITIZENSHIP Being a member of and included within a community.Allowed in to a community implies receiving or being granteda set of entitlements to legal equality and justice, the right tobe consulted on political matters and access to a minimum ofprotection against economic insecurity, while simultaneouslyrequired to fulfill certain obligations to state and society.(Cohen & Kennedy, 2000, p. 375.)“CLOSET” A notion drawn from queer theory whereby an individual witha marked, stigmatized and invisible difference can pass assomeone acceptable — usually the prevailing sense of“normal.” The walls become daily performances andutterances blocking outsiders from knowing a person’s fullsense of self but also inhibit the person in the “closet” fromconveying 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 suggeststhree attributes for a critical theory: explanations as to what iswrong in society with regard to disabled people; identificationof changes in society able to occur for this group and;description of goals for social transformation. There also issome sense of normativity with regard to how criticism isconstructed.DISABILITY A disability is any restriction resulting from an impairment, ofability to perform an activity in the manner or within the rangeconsidered normal for a human being (Blocksidge, 2003;WHO, 1980)DISEASE Emanates from medical discourse. A pathological condition ofa body part or organ caused by the interplay of external andinternal factors (environmental, social, economic, viral, stressand bacteria expressed through a variety of symptoms. Oftenused synonymously with disorder (Blocksidge, 2003; WHO,1980).xliDISORDER Emanates from medical discourse. Often used synonymouslywith disease. A condition where there is a disturbance ofanticipated or expected physical or mental functioning. In thisway, the “cause” is in the reading and relying uponexpectations rather than comprehending another’s self. Thereis not an allusion to “natural order” or “normal” functioning.This concept places the “cause” in the body of the person readas abnormal.EMBODIED MENTAL This is a more enactivist interpretation of psychiatricDISCONNECTION “disorder.” A cause for how mental difference is “read” iswhat occurs between individuals. When one person isperforming in a particular way, and the observed action is readnarrowly by another, a mismatch of behaviour expectationsoccurs. Because of the unique cultural, class, gender,sexuality, experiential, etc. attributes of each personinteracting, inaccurate interpretations can lead to erroneouslypathologizing performances. The cause, rather than residingwithin an individual’s body emerges through relationships,performance expectations and interpretations of actionsobserved.HANDICAP A physical or attitudinal constraint imposed upon a personregardless of whether that person has a disability. Also, theloss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normallife of the community on an equal level with others due tophysical 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 aregular basis, or “at risk” of becoming homeless. This studydraws upon all three because of the fineness of the lines (ifthey can even be defined neatly). The notion of “literally” hasseveral criteria, being a person who: (1) stayed overnight in ashelter designated for homeless people, runaways, orneglected or abused women; (2) sheltered at least one night ina house, apartment or room paid for with municipal,provincial or federal emergency housing funds; (3) livedovernight in a place not meant for human habitation (e.g., avacant building, a public or commercial facility, a city park, acar or on the street; (4) has a regular place to stay that is nottheir own (e.g., people who traded sexual favors for shelter orspent one night in a hotel or hospital); or (5) uses a soupkitchen or emergency food bank for the homeless population(City of Toronto, 1999, 2004)xliiIDENTITY “ERASURE” Others have not imagined that a person with mental disordershas a fully functioning and valued identity worthy ofunderstanding, i.e., those with mental disorders are managedas “things,” rather than related to as people with rich lives andexperiences. By ignoring a rich interior mental life springingfrom a defined sense of self, the result is the wiping away ofthis experience from an individual. Their disorder becomestheir identity.IMPAIRMENT Does have negative connotations among disabled peoplebecause there is attached a meaning of being “devalued,”“weak,” “damage,” and “less effective.” Within this study theword is narrowly defined to mean “inability” to perform inexpected 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 fallinto this strata of society.MARGINS/Borders The largest human social system is all of humanityencompassing the globe. Innumerable smaller networks andstructures exist within, i.e. trade zones, nations, states,provinces, cities, villages, towns, social groups culturalgroups, language groups and neighbourhoods, families,friendships, occupations groups, among others. Within each, asmall clique possesses most of the power and privilege; othershave little. They are either rendered non-visible or pushed tothe edges of a particular system. These margins are oftensocially and/or economically marked by disadvantage.Borders among these sub-systems mark those with advantageand those without. These boundaries are meant to keep “likegroups” together. In turn, crossing these frontiers, in eitherdirection, is difficult. Blurring the edges is enforced in subtleand coercive ways. It is with this in mind, that the study is anexample of border pedagogy envisioned by Freire (1970) andGiroux (1992).MENTAL IDENTITY How an individual envisions how one’s own sense of mentalliving and understanding contributes to a sense of self. Thisconcept is resonant with various queer identities’understanding their sexual selves and self-perceptions as theyexperience society and interactions with others.NON-VISIBLE A distinction is made between “invisible” which meanssomething or someone that simply cannot be seen — becauseof inability. “Non-visible” are things or people able to beseen, but the potential observer “chooses” (intentionally orthrough habit) not to see, i.e., many passersby “choose” not tosee panhandlers on the street.xivNORMAL The concept of “normal” is offensive when used in a contextcomparing “disabled people” with “normal people” since itimplies that disabled people are abnormal. The opposite ofdisabled 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 observerrather than in something “out there.” See embodied mentaldisconnection.NORMATE The constructed identity of those who, by way of the bodilyconfigurations and cultural capital they assume, can step intoa 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 aredeemed peripheral, marginal, unimportant or worthless fromwithin cultural expectations and expressions (Pickering,2001).SOCIAL CENTRE Related to margins. A powerful group of institutions and/orindividuals who exert economic and social authority upon asociety for all members to conform to a constellation ofbeliefs, values, practices, morals, standards and habits deemedto acceptable and valuable to the interests of this centralinfluence. 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 thataffect one or more within a social system. Power also isdefined by the ability and opportunity to gain entry andchange mechanisms of social system decision-making(Wartenberg, 1990).PSYCHIATRIC There is no attribution as to who coined this term; however, itSURVIVOR arose during the late 1 960s and the work of Howard Geld andhis founding of the Insane Liberation Front. Those who statethat their human rights were violated by mental health systemsuse the term. (MindFreedom, 2003; World Network of Usersand Survivors of Psychiatry, 2001)VOICE An intentional way to give expression for a person’s orgroup’s existence, needs, desires, identity in order to achieve aparticular goal, including legitimacy and acceptance.xvRural SociologyGlossary Term Glossary DefinitionAGRI..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 togetherand who identify themselves as such. This concept can evolvethrough 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 markedby hundreds or thousands of head of stock housed in crowdedbuildings 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 onor near the farm they operate collectively. Also these concerns areusually much smaller than factory farms, with fewer animals, moreuse of pasture and a more relaxed regime for raising livestock.(Bechthold, 2005).“JUST-IN-TIME Comes from corporate re-engineering discourse whereby theAGRICULTURE” matching of production and service delivery processes to sales is doneto maximize resources without the danger of having stockpiles ofunsold merchandise tying up money. Within the agricultural sense, itis one of matching farm production dates (meat processing, farmproduce, growing seasons, etc.) to when corporate or institutionalbuyers want to purchase to maximize quality and efficiencies of thefarm system with the grocery retail system (Dial, 1997).RURAL For the purposes of this study the following all were used todetermine whether Cowichan Valley could be considered “rural.”. Most postal codes in the area have a “0” in the second positionfrom 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 peopleper sq. km. (OECD criterion)• More than 50% of people live in rurally designated areas withinthe region.• There are no urban centers with 50,000 people or more in theregion. (de Plessis, Beshiri, Bollman & Clemenson, 2001)URBAN Regions where at least half of the criteria listed in “rural” do notapply.xviAdult EducationGlossary Term Glossary DefinitionANDRAGOGY 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 usuallydaily representations presented in some visual manner. Usuallythere are two phases of this in a cultural circle. The first isproblematizing, the second one is turning new learning intoaction 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 aCONSCIOUSNESS process of conscientization. This aim is marked by ability tointerpret experiential issues in complex ways: test one sfindings, open to changing directions in resolution, avoidinfluences that distort and ability to hold both the old waysalongside 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. Oncedone, then these aspects are interpreted or analyzed with a viewto finding ways to change, through collective social action(Freire, 1970, 1997).CULTURE OF Freire describes oppressed and alienated people as living withinSILENCE an environment where dominant or powerful groups do notrecognize, hear or see these groups. Authorities choose whatdisenfranchised groups will speak through the control of socialinstitutions. This influence silences the voices of excludedpeople 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 generativetheme being examined. Also, as more codifications areidentified, decodification interprets how the relationships amongparts of the theme work together to create social oppression anddisenfranchisement. In the culture circle, the discussions are theprocess what helps to expose the sources and exercise ofrepression (Freire, 1970, 1997).DIALECTIC A dynamic tension existing within a system and the process ofchange that occurs as a result of the unease. While Freireenvisioned a discussion, Boal drew upon the interaction ofbodies in theatre to portray performatively the dialectics ofoppression. (Boal, 1974; Freire, 1970).xviiDIALOGICAL A process marked by the acceptance and collective roles withinMETHOD learning whereby teacher and learner are blurred and ofteninterchangeable among participants (Freire, 1970).FIRST LEARNING Often thought of as something children engage in. When aperson takes in new awareness or a “stopped moment ofrecognition,” there can be experienced a sense of disbelief orhesitation before allowing the knowing in, but then there iswonderment and fascination to explore more deeply.GENERATIVE Freire uses generative themes are complex codifications that areTHEMES broad in scope and usually identify big issues. For example, inShaken, a generative theme was “employment” but thencodifications that supported the theme included the El office,the El appeal panel, trying to fit into work places, being usedout and so on (Freire, 1970).MYSTIFICATION The process by which oppressive influences are disguised andhidden away in “normal social processes.” Simple explanations,disinformation and superficial myths are used to distortauthorities’ exercise of power. For example, in Shaken, the useof doctors stating their failed attempts at healing asylum inmateswas only because there efforts were utterly altruistic and inpatients’ best interest (Freire, 1970).PRAXIS A cycle of action, reflection, action. As an act is performed, theexperience of that performance is reflected upon, changes madeand additional engagement (Freire, 1970).Performative InquiryGlossary Term Glossary DefinitionAUTOPOIESIS A self-maintaining unity or system where the component parts arecreated internally. These are closed systems in that they can standon 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, theother is the interior mental life. In much Western thought, theseare examined as separate entities, one from the other. While theycan be understood as distinct, they both inform one another in amultitude of ways. Enactivist and performative inquirers envisionthis. As a result, the two unities describing physical and mentalare reconnected into a whole.xviiiMany definitions exist that all involve aspects of systems inCHAOS/EDGE OF constant, random change. Within these attributes others areCHAOS included here: a variety of influences and variables exert theirpresence in a variety of ways that cannot be predicted. Processesthat are evident are themselves open to change so as to appear indisarray or disordered, when actually there is a sense of unity thatcan arise over the long term, but cannot be recognized in the shortterm. Because of the constant flux and openness to the addition ortaking away of factors, these systems are not stable, but aredynamic to shifts in environments. Even the slightest of shifts canaffect dramatically as described by Lorenz’ s “Butterfly Effect”(Lorenz, 1996)COMPLEX Within complexity theory, a complex system is one where thevarious parts are not linked in a linear way whereby change to oneportion results in a counterbalancing shift in another. The twoparts come back to equilibrium. A non-linear or complex systemmeans that a change in one aspect does not result in seeking forrestored balance, but creates a ripple throughout the system inways not always foreseen.CO-SEARCHER This term was coined for this research. All who participated withinthis study were actively seeking out something together. The “co”aligns with the notions of co-llaboration and co-operation. Theseterms are enactivist in sensibility in that all who are engaged arepart 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, andas part of, the world.EMBODIED Examinations that involve the entirety of physical interactions ofEXPLORATIONS whole bodies.EMBODIED Related to embodied cast with the addition that understanding thatLEARNERS participants are realizing in the experience of this study are beingphysically expressed through how they interact within their livesand 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 toforeground the ways individuals act out as a way to engage withothers. These processes for making sense are often left unnoticeduntil some event disturbs their non-visibility forcing recognition oftheir existence. Actions are seen as not reflective of interiormotivations, but are themselves understandings. Learning is not anindividual act but shared action.xixFELT This concept describes the occurrence of something that is notEXPERIENCE readily seen but instead is taken in by the body’s sensing. There isan interior responding to something by the body, without animmediate recognition of what (and often the brain cannot everadequately describe what has happened.) The body feels beforemental processing. This can be roughly equated to intuition,whereby, for example, the body feels threatened without anyapparent 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 anactivity, that anything else that could compete is excluded(Csikszentmihalyi, 1998).FRAMED SPACE This is connected to the notion of “container.” Within populartheatre, performances often take place where people are. In orderto “carve out” an area to perform, there is a marking out throughvarious means to say: “For the moment this is going to hold anactivity a little separate from the everyday.” By doing this there isa focusing on what is occurring. Everything that brackets theperformance helps to frame the space to hold popular theatre.HABITUS An individual’s cluster of learned dispositions operatingconcretely as organizing principles for experiencing, evaluatingand living one’s daily life. One’s habitus organizes an individual’sliving 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 inan individual alone (Fels, 1998; Taylor and Saarinen, 1994)KNOWLEDGE Constructed as a verb rather than a noun as in: knowing is being isdoing (Davis, Sumara, & Kieren, 1996). Fels (1998) added“creating” and in this study “playing” is added. Rather thansomething to be found, knowledge is engagement.Drawn from the writings of Habermas, this concept includes manyaspects: one’s view of life, dynamics of daily participation, thecluster of implied assumptions to support one’s outlook, the stockof shared understandings (interstandings in this study), involvescommunicative rationality and action, self concept and a sense of“normed” and meaningful living. The power of the assumptions inone’s lifeworld is its taken-for granted quality. Rendering themvisible and known destroys their efficacy, such as the work doneby the cast in this study (Habermas, 1987).Likened to an “aha” moment in education. During performativeinquiring, an instant occurs when some passing awareness ariseswithin one’s body while fully engaged in an activity. Often theeffect is to startle one’s thinking and actions to stop and reflect.These instances open one’s self up to new potential andpossibilities for exploration (Fels, 2003, 1998).LIFEWORLDMOMENTS OFRECOGNITIONxxPERFORMANCE Is considered to be both thing and action at the same time and is“an action-space of creative critical interplay realized throughimaginative response and action” (Fels, 2003, p. 243). Alsoetymologically this is described as “through the destruction ofform we come to action” (Fels. 2003, p. 233).PERFORMATIVE “A (re)search vehicle that embraces performance through creativeINQUIRY action and interaction as a space-action of learning andexploration” (Fels, 1999, p. 33).PLAY A free and voluntary activity that occurs in a pure space, isolatedand protected from the rest of life. Play is uncertain because theoutcome may not be foreseen. It is governed by rules that providea level playing field for all players. Play involves responding to anopponents action and to engage with the situation as freely as therules allow (Caillois, 2001). There is an echo here withexistentialists who claim humans are “condemned” to be free, soare trapped. Games provide the same: participants are free to playbut are condemned to rules.RESEARCHER- This is my role as the facilitator and author within this study. I amPARTICIPANT researching a particular experience and am participating within theprocess. The cast are also included in this role, but from a differentvantage point. The group is exploring members’ lives aspsychiatric survivors through participating in a performativeinquiry. (See co-searcher)SPACE-ACTION As the term implies, the combination of two unities broughttogether to co-create one new whole. One’s action and interactionswith others occur within a particular environment. Within this,performative inquiry happens.STOP The moments within a performative inquiry when co-searchersoften literally freeze when there is an instant of indecision duringthe course of interactions.., when there is both a moment of riskand of opportunity (Applebaum, 1995).Popular TheatreGlossary Term Glossary DefinitionEXTRA- A performe?s physical and mental presence is modelled according toDAILY performance principles, which are different from those applied indaily life (Barba, 1995).FOUND Popular theatre often does not occur in a location specially designedSPACE for performing. Instead, performances go to where the people, whoseissue it is, can be found. Offerings can be set up in parks, underbridges, 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 beperformed.xxiMETAXIS The state of belonging completely and simultaneously to two differentautonomous worlds: the image of reality and the reality of the image(Boal, 1995).POOR A presentation of theatre eliminating all non-essential productionTHEATRE elements, i.e., costumes, sound effects, makeup, sets, lighting, andstrictly defined playing area, in an effort to redefine the relationbetween actors and the audience (Grotowski, 1968).POPULAR Means relating to people, rather than something admired or known ina widespread way. Theatre that is popular is performance created bythe people, with the people, for the people and involves issues directlyaffecting the people (Kidd, 1980).POPULAR “a process of theatre which deeply involves specific communities inTHEATRE identifying issues of concern, analyzing current conditions and causesof a situation, identifying points of change, and analyzing how changecould 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 forceis ready to be released into space but as though suspended and stillunder control, the performer perceives her/his energy in the form ofsats, of dynamic preparation” (Barba, 1995, p. 42). It is the moment ofboth impulse and counter-impulse or holding counter actions togetherfor an instant.SPECT- A term coined by Boal (1974) whereby more active roles for audienceACTOR members is created so that spectators become actors within theunfolding performance, and, at times, some performers watch.Traditional roles of onlooker and doer become blurred.ExistentialismGlossary Term Glossary DefinihonANGST 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 closetedfrom public view. The closet, itself, is significant in its assertionabout 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 theroles I find myself in through circumstances and people makingme (a dependent object) who I am (Camus, 1989; Sartre 1948).The “making” is what is important.... What I become is lessimportant than how.xxiiBAD FAITH Consists of an individual assuming a false sense of self. Thistaking on is not imposed from outside, but is a willing act ofaccepting a situation as fact on what the individual knows is faultyevidence: By treating oneself as a free person, s/he is no longerseen 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 andEXISTENTIALISM implicated with the larger lived world. Related to this notion isthat of “free will” whereby an individual is left in the world andthat person is left to “choose.” Each choice made reverberatesthroughout social systems that can “feel” the change. Each personhas the ability to decide what to do with his/her life, but these canbecome 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 inwhen presented with a choice. This choosing results in an intent toengage in one or more actions including inaction. Sartre stated thatwe are “condemned” to freedom, so how can it be called free?HYPERREALITY When an event or object is constructed as a simulation ofexperience to avoid the fact that the copy was of something thatnever really existed. (Baudrillard, 1995)MEANINGLESSNE Through the action of living the notion of everything being carriedSS out holds no significance. There is no “cause” for this, but is saidto simply be. This sense is thought to be permanent and affectsevery part of one’s life. Even structures used to create meaningcollapse (Tillich, 1952).POSTMODERN A philosophy emphasizing the importance of power relationships,identity and voice in the “construction” of meaning andperspectives toward life experience.AbsurdismGlossary Term Glossary DefinitionABSURDISM A philosophy, usually incorporated into various art forms,contending any attempt to understand the universe will fail. Theabsurd is a result of confrontations between human desires fororder, meaning, and purpose in life and the silent indifference ofthe universe (Camus, 1955).BLACK HUMOUR The dissonance between action and topic create a tension withinthe observer because the bleakness of an experience is taken to anexaggerated level as to create laughter, but the subject matterremains depressing.xxiiiCARNIVALESQUE These are themes relating to the circus, dramatically changingexpectations, and inverting taken-for-granted social relationships.The world turned topsy-turvy, destruction in order for creation tooccur. 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 ofaudiences becoming tyrannized by a narrow view. Deconstructionis 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 targetis often someone or group that has power. This study takes satireinto the theatre to perform, rather than write, about particulargroups of power affecting adults living with psychiatricdiagnoses.xxivPREFACEThis is an invitation to you, the reader, to enter a project involving a group of peoplelargely unimagined within society: psychiatric survivorship. To capture the journey ofworking performatively with individuals diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities, thisthesis is constructed in a particular way.This project is concerned with a small group of psychiatric survivors andcounsellors performatively exploring issues that related to the relationship betweenmainstream 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 inthis case I feel it is most critical because of the interdisciplinarity of the work. In order tonarrow the definitions of key terms used within the text, a lengthy glossary immediatelyprecedes this preface.There are two parts to this dissertation. The main text contains the particularity ofthe context and the practice relating to what occurred between September 2002 andSeptember 2003 in the town of Duncan on Vancouver Island. You will find in theappendices, in detail, the theoretical underpinnings, namely, broad methodologicalconsiderations, critical disability, rural sociology.A variety of approaches can be used when reviewing this dissertation. One canstart at the beginning and read it from front to back, as it is provided here. Another pathinvolves starting with the theoretical discussion in the appendices before proceeding towith the main text. Finally, a third is flipping between the body of the work and materialat the back, as impulses are evoked. Perhaps as one engages physically and mentally withthis text and the openness with which to read it, new meanings will arise.xxvACKNOWLEDGEMENTSPeople are always in the background helping and supporting a project of thisnature. 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 hopeto work with— and a group of the most understanding teachers in the area of mentaldisorder a fellow learner could ever wish to learn from. Each of you has become such animportant part of my own changes as I explore my own sense of place within this socialworld. 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 ofthanks: Lynn, Angela, Tamaira, Dale, Quentin, Marlene, Heather, Julia, Sherry, Jenny,Sam, Sarah, Donna, Aurora, Jay, Greg, Golda, and Diane. Also, many thanks to the staffand members at the Open Door Program in Duncan, BC, for allowing a stranger into theirmidst. 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 forbeing such an unabashed fan with the countless news stories and reviews of our progressand work. The town of Duncan British Columbia on Vancouver Island, thank you forbeing the ideal location and the most hospitable town, and for allowing me to enter andcarry out my research. Of course, thank you to the Cowichan Fairgrounds for lending usits poultry barn.Thank you to my committee who slogged through drafts of this work. Even whileI resisted at times and complained perhaps too much. . . .1 was learning... I have learnedgreatly from your collective experiences. Thank you: Jan Selman, Lynn Fels, LeslieRoman, 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, MaryPetty, and Cindy Patton, who always asked how I was doing through good times and notso smooth. My dear friends Cynthia Andruske and Valerie-Lee Chapman, in body andspirit, informed my writing in countless subtle ways. Even during some of your darkesthours, Cynthia, you were extremely helpful when reading over chapters and givingsuggestions. 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 studentsmoving on from Adult Ed/Ed Studies. Valerie is being missed everyday....And lastly, and most importantly, I want to thank Vincent — who has livedthrough my masters and now through years of driving carloads of props and castmembers to rehearsals and shows, navigating mountains of paper, helping in the panicthat is backstage, and months of writing: my doctoral journey. Whose relentless love andpersevering devotion and support has been the single greatest constant through this workand its frustrations, loneliness, joys, laughter, successes, and the process of living. Thiswork is as much yours as it is mine because you were always simply just you... .justthere.. . .and just patiently waiting in the wings.xxviDEDICATIONThis work is dedicated to the cast,their caregivers and loved ones.xxviiCHAPTER ONECONCEPTUAL OVERVIEW OF THIS INQUIRY“...then all ofa sudden people came and they sat around the garden and then we were standingby what we hadplanted and then there was a show and it was like nobody realized it until the endand we were like how ‘d that happen? “(TaIIuIah, Interview 6, P. 4).IntroductionThis report reflects a performative inquiry in Duncan, British Columbia (BC) involving agroup of psychiatric survivors, counsellors and me putting on a play entitled Shaken: NotDisturbed.... with a twist! (Shaken). This popular performance depicted the experiencesof living within a small town with psychiatric diagnoses. The work began in September2002 and concluded with performances, including one in a local poultry barn and severalat 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: twocounsellors, two counselling students, one adult with some theatre background, fourteenadults diagnosed with multiple mental disorder(s) (all from within the local mental healthsystem) and me as a researcher-participant. The adults within this work were embodiedlearners (see glossary) as well as performers and people searching to be full, participatingcitizens. 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 incorporatingtheories from critical disability, popular adult education, performative inquiry, absurdismand existentialism. To help the reader, a glossary is provided following the Listing ofTables and before this main text.1PurposesThe purposes of this study were to (i) disrupt “normal” ways of thinking aboutpsychiatric diversity by challenging prevailing notions of mental “illness” and (ii) createbetter relationships between psychiatrically diagnosed and other people. These purposeswere achieved by staging a theatre production in a chicken barn. This study examined therelationship of othering by exploring mental diversity. Specific intentions supported theseaims, namely:• revealing the basic capacity for power, expression of identity and need forvoice a group of psychiatric survivors embody when performing their livedexperience;• humanizing individuals and their experiences relating to living with and beinglabelled as “mentally disordered”; and• bridging different identity positions through commonality of experience.The QuestionKeeping in mind the challenges of living in a rural setting and the distorting influence ofauthorities, mentally marginalized individuals are often seen as “things” to bemanipulated by systems, rather than engaged with as part of society. Professionals imposepractices 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-forgranted performed privilege. If a group enters a space to explore freely, in a performativemanner, its collective meaning from its own perspective, what awareness arises? Couldexaggeration, 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 itdevelops 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 theyshaped as a result of the theatre work?Voice is an aspect of relating to others and a dynamic through which identityemerges. Within this study, the notion of uttering and naming one’s own experiencerelates to the qualitative performative act of speaking, as envisioned by feminism.Traditionally, voices to be heard have qualities of “authority” and “authenticity.” Often areason for silence experienced, by some women and men on the edge of society, is theyare 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 authenticityof lived experience.Identity, historically, was something traditions, family relationships, occupationsand stories helped to shape. Often, in the case of psychiatric survivors, these forces areminimized or removed. To replace these absences, often the media, medical authoritiesand experience shape a mentally diagnosed person’s view of one’s self. Identity is areflection of how a person is treated by others and is a response to this. Knowing one’sself 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, he3examined both overt and covert dynamics of power. For example, rituals can beconsidered as overt symbols, which signify power (Bell, 1995). Less considered is thatthese rites serve additional purposes: ways of creating and maintaining authority. Medicalprofessions and institutions, in particular, mould the lives of psychiatric survivors. Ritualsand their relational power are key aspects for the maintenance of the roles of powerfulpsychiatrist and disempowered patient.Throughout this research, opportunities arose to deepen the understanding ofvoice, identity and power, in relation to one another. These underwent shifting andreshaping through experiences of intentionally performing. The relative safety of thetheatre space provided an opportunity to open up relationships of identity, voice andpower.Mental DiversityThe World Health Organization (WHO, 1980) has claimed 450 million people areaffected by mental, neurological and/or behavioural “problems” at any one time. As of1990, five of the top ten “burdens” of disability (for established market economies) werepsychiatric disorders: uni-polar depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcoholismand obsessive-compulsive disorder. As the world’s entire population continues to age,WHO expects the incidence of mental “disorders” to increase. Canadians living withmental “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 underresearched areas.Mentally disordered people, living in rural areas, face challenges; some issuessimilar to those of their urban counterparts, others unique. First, deep conservatism is4prevalent in small towns and among farming families. Rural people tend to be cautiousbecause of the immediate effect and unpredictability of nature. Many traditions tied toclimate and the land, have existed for generations. These individuals use their customs asa way to forge stability. Prudence, related to nature, has over centuries, translated intosocial conservatism.Transportation networks remain inadequate or non-existent in rural areas. Manypeople living with mental disorders are not able to drive. It is for individuals diagnosedwith 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 iswithin the low-waged retail and hospitality sectors. These jobs are generally part-timeand involve shift work. Many employers stereotype disabled people. Their credentials orwork experience becomes suspect as less legitimate than “normal” people’s. Landlordsblock adults living with mental disorders from stable housing, so that many are forcedinto transitory housing and homelessness. Shelter is a chronic issue for all mentallydisordered individuals; however, greater concentrations of social housing and relatedservices exist in cities. In Duncan, BC, for example, few social housing units exist. Studyparticipants pay the prevailing rents. Due to the relative lack of emergency shelters(currently none exist in Duncan), those without homes sleep outdoors or sojourn amongfriends’ homes. Accurately understanding the extent and dynamics of homelessness andinadequate housing remains difficult because of “couch surfing,” whereby otherwisehomeless individuals “crash” on friends’ floors.Government disability payments are below the poverty line and these rates areunder attack (Roman & Salmon, 2003; Zingaro & Tom, 2003). Food banks and soup5kitchens are more commonly found in cities. Duncan has one food bank expected toservice the immediate area of 30,000 (This local food bank has experienced a doubling inthose reliant on its services from 2001 to 2004 (Bainas, 2004). Intermittent “soupkitchens” are set up, predominantly around holidays. Pawnshops experience a cyclicalpattern of buying and selling. Psychiatric survivors buy possessions from these storesafter disability and welfare payments are received and later sell them back in order tostretch money through a particular month.Financial supports for local poor populations are minimal and spotty at best. TheCowichan 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 Nationspopulation also is experiencing high levels of poverty. Within cities more and wealthierpeople donate to charities. In Duncan, the town relies on fewer and relatively poorerpeople to support non-profit agencies. The town’s volunteer centre had much of itsprovincial funding cut during the project, severely hampering people in need (CowichanCitizen, 2004).Authority for managing the dependency of those who are psychiatricallydiagnosed rests with professionals who “gate-keep” opportunities that could lead intocorporate, government or not-for-sector opportunities. Control of individual castmembers understood his/her identity is held by others. The exercise of coercive powermarks these relationships and silences the voices of the repressed. Participants said theywere commonly told by experts and those with influence that steps taken for their weredone “for their own good.”6Mental IdentityCentral 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). Historiesdocumenting mental diagnoses suggest an evolution in the identity of adults living withmental diversity. From ancient times to the Middle Ages, mental “difference” wasidentified as a sign of divine intervention. Later, in the Middle Ages, “abnormal” peoplewere 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 therecontemplation of psychiatric labels. It would be a hundred years after that, that theselabels would be theorized as significantly informing and attaching themselves to people’sidentities. This evolution transpired with the creation of asylums and emergence of “maddoctors.” Prior to this, “blame” for mental disorder arose through a combination of divineforces 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 impairedwas constructed by biology instead of divine intervention or weakness of character. Withthe rise of statistical analysis, the cultural artefacts of “normalization” and “socialdeviance” came into being. The dynamic of psychiatry drew upon physical medicalscience 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 “personaltragedy” or pitiable identity (Foucault, 1965).Throughout the 1 970s and 1 980s, thousands of asylum and hospital inmates werereleased for compassionate, but largely financial reasons (Turner, 2004). Moving a7population, after spending decades in a “protected” environment into another threateningand foreign one without support, put individuals in significant upheaval and turmoil.Now, individuals with mental diagnoses often live non-visibly (By that I mean, despitethese individuals living in doorways passers-by choose not to “see” these people).After social liberation struggles led by women, Blacks and sexual minoritiesduring the 1960s through the 1980s, a new struggle emerged: disability rightsmovements. 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 tookplace. The million plus Gay Pride Day celebrants in Toronto that year inspired the MadFestival to take place a few months later. From a small beginning of 200 people inToronto, 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 amore recent occurrence.For many people living with psychiatric impairments, their families, friends,caregivers, social workers, and psychiatrists, in particular, manage and construct theirworlds and perceptions of self. Those living with psychiatric impairments face severerepression because of non-conformity to what “sane normates” wish (Garland-Thompson,1996, 1999, 2002). Ever-increasing numbers of medical and social work professionalsreduce a psychiatric survivor’s “being” to the workings of his/her brain. Many authoritiesdeem having a rich interior life irrelevant. To erase unique identity, the universalapplication of “sick” is now the defining attribute. Labelling of mentally diagnosed8individuals as “different” or “abnormal,” often leads to pathologized and devalued sensesof 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 valuedcitizens. Today’s critical writers and theorists focus on mental pride, while encouragementally 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 goalof full acceptance and inclusion. The missing factor is the ability to vocalize and performone’s identity within the public realm.Mental VoiceThere are many Canadians who are told by policies, institutions, laws, rituals, and peoplethat those with mental differenceDo notfitDo not belongHave less value.(Noble Notes, p. 93)Disempowered social groups include women, sexual minorities, First Nations, visibleethnic minorities and most disabled people. The participants of this study are a subgroupof the last category: people living with psychiatric diagnoses.Research is done about people living with psychiatric diagnoses. However, scantresearch exists about these individuals living active roles within the community. Tocounter this gap, disability theorists increasingly demand a more active voice for thosestudied (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 tobecoming known as “stigmatized others.” Like the “sexual closet,” walls of social stigmaare reinforced by self-imposed shame. Speaking out often creates an expectation ofstigma. Rather than face ridicule and shame, many people prefer to remain silentbelieving 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 theirhistories, 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 wereworking within disabilities or targeting physical or learning arid developmentalimpairments. Until the late 1 980s and early 1 990s, no theatre company had dedicateditself to psychiatric impairments. Today these companies include: since 1987, Toronto’sWorkman Theatre Project (2005) and since 2004, Ottawa’s Stigma Busters (2005)Productions. The most recent addition to the MAD Pride Celebration is the Mad PrideInternational Theatre Festival (MindFreedom, 2003). The celebration is run by aninternational coalition of mental survivor organizations. From celebration of one’s“mental pride” comes a moment to develop research investigating diverse lives of mentalminorities. This thesis reflects a continuation of recent initiatives.The group coming together for this study inadvertently became part of a muchlarger gathering voice speaking out about its own stories of oppression. MindFreedom’s10(2003) mission statement maintained: psychiatric survivors want to help themselves byhelping disempowered others through larger coalition systems...In a spirit of mutual cooperation, MindFreedom leads a non-violentrevolution offreedom, equality, truth and human rights that unites peopleaffected by the mental health system with movements for justiceeverywhere (p. 1).Shaken: Not Disturbed... with a twist! marked a small episode of finding voicewithin a mainstream filled with vested interests. Like many disempowered groups,psychiatric survivors work together to develop the confidence to speak with others.Mad/Mental PrideBy coming together and exploring their lives, psychiatric survivors can find ways to beheard. A sense of personal and group power unfamiliar to them evolves through thisemerging identity and rising voices. This newfound autonomy can then create uncertaintyand sows seeds of disempowerment for fear of disturbing mainstream relations. The castof this study decided to meet this challenge by performing publicly. This group’stransgression, “coming out” of the “mental closet,” was more profound because it choseto speak directly against authorities: psychiatrists, social workers, family members andthe 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 statusquo 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: Thestigma had to end. The play’s lessons deconstructed the mainstream’s values aboutpeople 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’smessage 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 liveoutside what? A barrier?The handicap isthe attitude ofa persistently ableist society.Rural LifeThirty percent of the Canadian population and 15% of British Columbia’s (StatisticsCanada, 2001, 2002b) live outside urban and suburban settings. Despite this, much socialtheory remains within an urban bias. When researchers rely on conceptions contrivedwithin “the metropolis” as common sense across all experiential settings, imaginescountry and city environments as interchangeable. Urban messages that can confrontrural 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 issignificant for broadening notions of “community” and “society.” Today, rural areas stillhave a largely intact social fabric (Carter, 1999). Their compactness can magnify theeffects of events. As a result of our theatre group’s play development and performance inDuncan, BC, wanted to talk to the cast members frequently about our work. From theseconversations came new opportunities to inform their work on the play. Through theintimately interconnected nature of the small town, many opportunities for dialogue andexpanding relationships occurred. Unlike the anonymous hiding away of individuals inlarger urban centres, the population of a rural town knows one another. Because of close12relationships, change within a country setting can be challenging, yet it generatesresponses 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 humanways (Fellegi, 1996; Miller, 2001). A strong sense of home, belonging,interconnectedness and reciprocity among neighbours exist: these values buoy periods oftrouble. 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 inthe city often it’s strangers helping strangers. Emotional distance is more likely to bemuch shorter, more intimate and strongly felt within a rural setting. The rationale forworking there, in a more rural setting, was to illustrate how a country environmentinfluenced and informed experience. Like much in this research, the locale was hiddenwithin unimagined margins. Focussing on the rural environment and the effects ofcountry thinking on theory were keys to broadening and deepening the ideas of“community” and “society.”TransitionsHistorically, an important reason for supporting farmers and rural people was populatingthe large expanses of Canada. Within the past 15 years, rural regions have experiencedmajor social, economic and political transformations. For decades, Canada’s countrysiderelied on government subsidies and other financial supports to moderate theunpredictability of farming (Boyens, 2001). However, within the last decade, drivenlargely by international trade agreements, financial supports to farmers were declared13unfair. As a result, payments were dramatically reduced. Canada leads the way in thesereductions (Boyens, 2001).Simultaneously, as resource sectors experienced bankruptcies and foreigncompetition, price shocks and labour disruptions followed. This economic turmoilaffected small towns dramatically as they were built to service the stable workforces inthe resource sectors. Depleted fish stocks, lumber tariff wars, incursion of the mountainpine beetle, forest fires, Mad Cow disease, Avian flu, closed mines: these were some ofthe reduced economic and social supports for rural areas. Local populations continue tostruggle to survive.New CountrySmall towns are now wired into a global marketplace. New influences creep into thecountryside. Minimum-waged, low-skilled retail and tourism positions flourish, insteadof old high paying resource sector jobs. For farmers and migrant workers, intermittent,minimal and constantly tightening government support is all that is available. Globalforces 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 marketbrand. The region’s logo is meant to be synonymous with its rural products and “agritourism” destination specializing in culinary tours and farm vacations. Increasing relianceon the Internet marks the need for creating “experiences,” services and products. Withdiminishing populations in rural areas, small towns once needed to service agriculture aredying. Unlike elsewhere in British Columbia, no ghost towns exist in the CowichanValley because mountains and hilly terrain keep farming ventures small. These14“boutique” farms specialize in rare herbs, emus, bison and alpaca. Local wineries andcideries offer culinary tours, lodging at farms, sightseeing at local farmers’ markets anddining.While all seems well in the region, some significant challenges have emerged.Crystal meth is entering Cowichan schools. Break-and-enters and high levels ofvandalism are due to increased drug addiction. Tugs of war abound between new andentrenched ideas. The local valley’s population is split between those with progressiveideas, represented by recent arrivals and those with more entrenched conservative fromdeep roots of local tradition. Tension tears at the social and economic structures andresources. A way for those spoken about needs to be found so their needs, ideas anddesires can be expressed. Lost in the struggles are the experiences of psychiatricsurvivors.Methodology: Performative InquiryA method of expressing identity and experience, through “voice,” that would fit a ruralsetting 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 andDavis (1997a, 1997b), performative inquiry focuses on the body-mind (Hocking, Haskell& Linds, 2001) connection within the process of generating new awareness. Throughspontaneity, as found within random and intentional play, knowledge is in theinter(re)acting of bodies. “Interstandings” are those insights emerging throughrelationships (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 theseactions, especially when each person engages interactively and holistically with anothercomplete individuals. Interpretation occurred. Within performative inquiry, it isexpression and interpretation that inform acts. This research process relied on play as actsof knowledge.Performative methodology lives with ambiguity. The result of individuals’ dailyinteractions is often not readily available in articulate thought. What is stored, hidden inbodies, is teased out through motion and the expression of emotion. Within thecomplexity of living bodies remains a degree of uncertainty and randomness. Further,complexity is added when the number of interacting human beings is increased. Aheightened sense of risk opens up the need for a broadening of the flow of power amongthe embodied learners. Taking “leaps of faith,” which is not what I expected, requiresfostering an environment of exchange, collaboration and risk (Sumara & Davis, 1 997a).A process of knowledge and shared insights emerged through the group’s performativeexplorations. Transformations created interactivity and involvement among castmembers. As Fels (2003) explains,If we imagine imagination as cognitive action-interaction, a birthing andrebirthing simultaneously withinform and the destruction ofform, then wefind ourselves in an unexpected space between structure and chaos— aspace 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 theinsight is not clear until further reflection. A pathway of experience is traced throughdiscrete clarifring moments of “aha” or “recognition.” These turning points are moments16for gathering clues leading to further options for exploration. Rather than narrow to ananswer, performative inquiry continues to open options for new awareness.As can be seen already, a few bits of performative inquiry exist in thiswriting.. .with the use of active and performative prose. In order to capture theunexpected moments within performative inquiryP1 nguthere are twinklings of instances that are recreated among these pages to give you asense of those insights as though they occurred for the first time. These “moments ofrecognition” are shown in both italics and word placement on the page, in order tofacilitate reading and thinking in more engaging ways. Through playing with words andspace in a play-full way at key spots, the normative reading of the page gives way tounpredictability, 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 abilityfor playful spontaneity.Knowledge shifts to being a verb, not a noun (Fels, 1998, p. 30), and an act ofconjuring awareness among individuals. Learning by doing, through performing, allowsknowledge arising between bodies to inform past practice, while enabling rehearsals forfuture action.Adult EducationEvery social action group should at the same time be an adult educationgroup, and I go even as far as to believe that all successful adulteducation 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 adult17educators at the turn of the twentieth century, Lindeman imagined adult education asbeing life. All of living is a constant sense of learning and understanding. Individualscannot stop the act of “taking in.” He saw adult education as being non-vocational innature. Nor is it driven by subjects, but by situations. Because of this latter point, adulteducation’s chief resource is experiences. Education is life; life is education.Twenty-four years later Knowles (1950) wrote about informal adult education asinformed by Lindeman’s earlier theorizing. Knowles examined informal adult learning.He believed adults needed to fully understand themselves. At the same time they neededto accept and respect who they were as individuals and their daily adult roles. To bemature, people needed to develop an attitude of acceptance, respect and love towardsothers. Many diverse people inhabit this world. If individuals cannot empathize withdissimilar beliefs or approaches to living, then a lessened ability to truly take in thecomplexities 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 seeingsomething in awe for the first time) is a requirement. Rather than be satisfied with seeingsymptoms, society needs to understand causes within social relations. Individuals need todig deeply beneath the surface of interactions to get at the impulses behind actions. Thisexcavating is a key strength of performative inquiry.During the late 1 960s to early 1 980s, popular and critical educators wroteprolifically in order to highlight schooling’s “neutrality.” Freire (1970), most central ofall, spoke of cultures of silence, cultural circles and teaching with an aspect of love andhope. Like Lindeman (1945, 1929) and Knowles (1950, 1980), Freire wrote aboutinformal adult education (1970, 1985, 1997). This radical and anti-oppression educator’s18purpose was to liberate disempowered people through more balanced power withinparticipantlfacilitator relationships. While learners’ situations were studied, theyidentified their own needs. Other aspects of Freirian consciousness-raising educationinclude group participation in the planning process, addressing social action andrecognizing the community where learning occurred. Isolated from daily routines, aritualistic separated space is entered into for engaging in popular adult education. TheFreirian cultural circle is an example. Generative thematic work carried out in thesespaces 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 aboutthrough raised awareness for one’s improved life circumstances and potential.For centuries, part of theatre’s focus, particularly folk dramas and popular theatrewas to lay bare social power and interests being played out within society. A number ofcritical educational writers continue to tease apart sociological understandings relating tosocial and economic inequities. For example, Illich (1973) was critical of the institutionof schooling as noted by the following: institutionalization of learning and the need forconviviality, which is the “autonomous and creative intercourse amongpersons and theintercourse ofpersons with their environment” (p. 24). Today, 30 years later,performative inquiry re-envisions these concepts. The impulses of other criticaleducationalists, including Shor (1987, 1992, 1996,), McLaren (1995, 1999), Giroux(1997, 2001), hooks (1994) and Apple (1999), resonate with the view of adult educationtaken within this performative research.19Popular TheatreWithin this inquiry, the practice of popular theatre and the symbolism of absurdism wereincluded 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 traditionalresearch relationship of the social centre examining marginalized circumstances, non-visible distortions in taken-for-granted relationships were revealed. The study’s cosearchers found the process of critiquing the mainstream a source of strength to form anddeepen 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 areproducts 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 thepeople. In popular education’s fashion, explorations of disempowerment and oppressionwere 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 ofpopular theatre raised critical social awareness through theatre making, (Prentki &Selman, 2000).Within this study, the cast sought an increased engagement with and enactiveform of citizenship. Popular theatre, and its attachment to oppressed people, lent itselfwell to a group of psychiatric survivors, as they had lived through regimes ofcategorizing, measuring, closeting, controlling, reducing and erasing humanness. Bodies20and selves are reconnected through performance. Moreover, co-searchers can learn tocommunicate and make sense with and through relationships. Part of the process ofpopular 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 sametime the cast educates others about marginalized lives. Frequently, popular theatre drawson an ethic of poverty (Grotowski, 1968). The concept of “poor” does not meanimpoverishment of aesthetics, ideas or lived experience, but a lack of extravagantproduction elements for performances. Elaborate theatre staging is thought to limit theimagination, rather than free it. Limited numbers of props, sets and costumes are reliedon in symbolic ways. Meaning emerges through relationships of a few objects and peopleon stage. For this reason, popular theatre relies on the audience’s and cast’s imaginationsfor the negotiation of meaning. This type of theatrical experience is drawn from thestories, experiences, awareness and insights from “the people” as the cast represents(Kershaw, 1992).A bsurdismThe roots of absurdist forms stem from Dadaism and surrealism. However, notionssupporting disharmony stray further back to Kierkegaard’s (Malantschuk, Hong & Hong,2003) ideas of living aesthetically or of living ethically. Essentially, this means that livingaccording to duty inevitably results in the compromise of one’s “true” self and so isultimately meaningless. Sartre (1946, 1948, 1976) and Camus (1955) support much ofwhat absurdism tried to make concrete. Existentialist thinkers suggest humans have freewill. Daily living involves choices. Making decisions creates stress. Each timeindividuals choose, negative consequences occur. Sometimes these are known, but often21they are hidden. Not everything encountered in our lives can be explained. Rather, theyappear absurd or off-kilter. When an individual makes a decision, he or she must carryout 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 orinauthentically. Living is ultimately without meaning and, so, absurd. Postmodernismand 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 inasylums. However, it was Esslin (1961) who coined the term “theatre of the absurd.” Hedid this to “lump” together disparate artists (playwrights, actors, directors). These peoplerarely collaborated, socialized or interacted. Absurdism is included within this studybecause of its ability to make assumptions held by mainstream authorities visible. In turn,performative inquiry and popular theatre can play with and open these presuppositionsfurther. Absurdism is a deconstructive reading of a seemingly pointless world from thevantage 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 harshsounds, darkness, music and no overriding plot. Snippets of life are strung together inapparent randomness. “Meanings” are left to the audience. Everything holds potentialsignificance: from the location and structure of the building, to the space, the action andother audience members. Nothing in the performance suggests a specific place, time orspace to contextualize the action. To heighten the sense of mundane awareness, much of22the action is ritualized and repetitive; there is a sense of being is locked in with noescaping. Black humour, or the dissonance between action and topic, creates tension asthe bleakness topic is exaggerated to evoke laughter. As a result, the subject matterremains depressingly stark. All of this fits comfortably with lives trapped by the mentalhealth system.ProceduresFrom the theory briefly described in the previous pages, a set of procedures unfoldedwhile carrying out this research. The “trapped” quality of living with mental diagnosescan lead to lives filled with cycles of unending negativity and oppression. How can thisgroup 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 halfhours. The time was split three ways. During the first half hour, members mutuallychecked in with one another (including me) and engaged in movement exercises(including yoga and/or dance). The middle period, approximately 90 minutes, involvedplaying theatre games, learning about theatre, or creating performance pieces for a show.The closing moments of each session were spent “cooling down.” This involved guidedmeditation and reflective thoughts.The period leading up to the performance was split into roughly equal thirds. Thefirst three months developed a cohesive group by playing theatre games and engaging inexercises. The second period blended playing with learning about theatre and elements ofperformance. The last period involved creation of performance elements and a publicproduction in May 2003. The work was remounted in September of the same year for thelocal fringe festival.23Throughout the time spent with the group, research activities within thisperformative inquiry included writing reflective field notes after each session. Occasionalpictures were taken at rehearsals (Figures 1 and 2). Two sets of interviews withindividual cast members were completed at the beginning and end of the process.Audience members were interviewed shortly after the first show. Videotapes of the mainshow and fringe production were made.Recording rehearsals, interviews, performances, casual conversations and takingfield notes captured experiences as they unfolded. Themes emerged within theperformative inquiry as they related to the three key elements under study: identity, voiceand power. These notions slowly appeared through role playing, dancing, telling storiesand slowly crafting together pieces of experiences shared by the co-searchers.Connections among these three aspects of agency came forth in the following way. Asmembers felt more comfortable speaking and showing their memories, their interactionsgrew stronger and more certain. As talking became more confident, their sense of selfstood taller and more self-assured. By the time the show, Shaken: Not Disturbed... with atwist! was mounted the third element appeared on stage: a collective and individual senseof autonomy or power. Within Chapters 5-7, each of these concepts are discussed inFigure 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, toaudience perceptions, to my own understanding, respectively.The Researcher-ParticipantWithin each person there are tensions between aspects of identity that can be read byobservers. What is often taken in is a public image, but what is usually not understood arehidden aspects of a person stowed away in the physical body and memories, or theprivate self. What happens if there are private markers that can be read but are ignored ordevalued? This dynamic drew me into this research: the struggle of tensions that isvisible, yet but remains unnoticed.My life has carried a number of “identity tensions” informing my view ofexperience. I described these sources of unease by comparing the public’s understandingof my selves versus my personal understandings of me. The differences between the twoare 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 theconstruction 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 ofmaking one’s thoughts, feelings and stories visible. The non-visible aspects of identityand their roles in creating difference are a particular research focus for me. In the practiceof living, I am less anchored to one fixed notion of self. Instead, I am constantlynegotiating among various dimensions contained within my public versus private senses25of self; I am left wandering among the frontiers of difference. Admittance into themainstream is largely foreclosed; therefore, much of what is studied takes place withinthe margins. I wrote extensively about my liminal position during my master’s research.To help frame the work, my personal philosophies and approach are importantand elaborated. My perspectives are shaped by circumstance and ability to incorporateexperience with what is brought forward through my history. As with most educators, Iprefer to teach the way I feel I learn best. Space is important; the environment is one ofheightened flexibility, spontaneity, comfort and openness. This is why I, as often as I amable, find myself working within community settings, away from formal institutions.Where individuals work and play is a critical element in the ritual of learning. Educationis a rite of passage, containing relationships of teaching, learning and interactions ofchange. This study included significant transitions as co-searchers looked to themselvesand each other to create a deeper awareness of their place in society, starting with howthe cast operated. Everyone in this cast negotiated decisions and the creation of thelearning atmosphere in an effort to share the power within the group. Throughout theearly part of the inquiry, this opening up of power dynamics by the participants was aconstant “push-of-war.” Participants were deflecting authority and decision-making tome. I would turn the reaction back. By the end of our time together, the group was morecomfortable making decisions affecting both themselves and the larger group.I am in the research. Popular theatre, adult education and performative inquiryanticipate this. What is presented is a reflection of the writer in conjunction with thosereflected. Bodies and their performances come together to construct the “data.” Other26voices are implied, even though my voice as the writer is the most apparent among thesepages:vocalizingdancingsingingtalkingcreatingbeingbecoming playingOverview of the DissertationIn Chapter One, I stated the problem was mental “difference’s” construction throughprevailing mainstream notions of psychiatric disability. The manufacturing of socialmargins, as illustrated through a cast of psychiatrically diagnosed individuals and itsstories, connects to the main purpose of this research: (i) disrupt “normal” ways ofthinking about psychiatric diversity by challenging prevailing notions of mental “illness”and (ii) create better relationships between psychiatrically diagnosed and other peopleIntentions supporting this aim include:• revealing of the basic capacity for power, expression of identity and need forvoice a group of psychiatric survivors embody when performing their livedexperience;• humanizing individuals and their experiences relating to living with and beinglabelled as “mentally disordered”; and• bridging different identity positions through commonality of experience.Bringing the problem, purpose and intention together, the following question began theinquiry: What shtfts occur within a group ofrural adults living with mental disorder(s) asit develops andpresents an absurdistpopular theatre community production?The methodological framing of the study is discussed in Chapter Two. The broadframe of radical humanism is described. The link with critical popular adult education27and Freire is highlighted. The process carried out within this study was a performativeinquiry (Fels, 1998). The techniques of popular theatre were employed and absurdisttheatre 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 outthe research and the means through which “analysis” or reflective interpretationsemerged.Chapter Four delves more deeply into concrete practice by describing particularincidents. Experiences of the presentation and post-production follow within the threechapters 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 fromembodied (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 previouschapter, this one looks at power, identity and voice from the spectators’ perceptions ofthe cast. Also, the audience’s shift in awareness regarding individuals living with mentaldisorder 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. Thissecond to last chapter is of my own reflection as the bridge between someone “inside” a28group of adults living with disorder and as an “outsider” from within the broadercommunity.Chapter Eight examines the significance of this study. This moves the discussionfrom the current research into missed or lost strands I will investigate in the future.SummaryThis chapter provided the background for this research including the central “problem”and concepts this dissertation relied on. Guiding the reader into this research, the chapteropens with a concise description of what this study involved: a group of psychiatricsurvivors creating a play about their experiences of living within social “difference.”From here, the study’s purposes and intentions were described, leading to the guidingresearch question. To provide a quick landscaping of the research, the theoreticalscaffolding of mental/disability theory, rural sociology and the interdisciplinarymethodology of performative inquiry were outlined. Much greater detailed discussionscentred on critical disability and rural sociology can be found in the appendices with theformer in Appendix B and the latter in Appendix C. My social location, as rural gayresearcher and a brief overview of my philosophy of education were introduced toprovide some framing of this dissertation. And lastly, an overview of the flow of chapterswas provided. The next chapter recounts the evolution of how psychiatric survivors havebeen constructed historically through to the present.29CHAPTER TWOPERFORMING INQUIRIES OF (IN)SANITY“...as I exist in the world and with the world, the reading ofmy body, as well asthat ofother bodies, implies the reading ofspace” (Freire, 1997, p. 52)IntroductionIn 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. Thefocus of this research is to transform oppressive relationships into something moreempowering as viewed by people, themselves. Popular adult education is the field thisexploration took place in. Education is a tool by which learners can critically examinehow power is implicated within the processes of freeing or limiting life opportunities fora particular group. Performative inquiry is the methodology. This question-driven inquiryallows for individuals to start with a large question and slowly, through performativeactions, open the initial query into smaller controversies that lead into more novel andhidden connections. Through exploration, a greater sense of awareness arises throughprobing unfolding questions as they emerge. The methodology remains open for furtherqueries.The method for this study was a blending of the processes of popular theatre andforms from theatre of the absurd. Theatre exercises and games allowed for chaos,ambiguity and serendipity to be fostered so novel insights and connections were conjuredthrough playing, doing and creating. Absurdist forms and themes including “darkhumour” (whereby serious and negative experiences are portrayed in ways that evokelaughter), circularity, unending aimlessness, routine, exaggeration, and contradictoryrelationships (that render invisible power relationships visible) were all used in the play30that unfolded through this process. Performativity and reflective observation link,conceptually, the disparate pieces together into a more complete story. The results of themethodology are discussed in Chapters 5 to 7. To start, popular adult education ispresented as the first piece of the picture (Figure 3) created throughout this chapter.Figure 3: Theoretical relationships incorporated within the studyRadical HumanismMapping of educational and social change theories, carried out by Paulston (1996),created a broader view of how educational theory and philosophies connect together inrelation to one another (Figure 4, on page 33). The horizontal line in the diagram marks acontinuum of ontology or how theories view “reality.” The right side relates to thoseviews 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 inhis or her own, unique subjective way. The vertical line marks power relationships withinRADICAL// \HUMANISMIAbsurdistStructures \\: \I: :PopularTheatre Process \Performativity \‘1I II I IfI--LI: EEERural Sociology, Cntical Disability Theory :Constructions of Psychiatric Disorders as Context(I31society and how they are used. The topmost point views the focus as being socialtransformation, whereas the bottom-most point is interested in the maintenance of a statusquo.Briefly, each quadrant takes a different view of the world and what education setsout to achieve. Functionalism establishes what “must be,” or education sits within a senseof objective realities and power that maintains equilibrium of current social and powerrelations. 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 humanistviews the world as not “out there,” but is constructed through the subjectiveinterpretations and viewpoint of each individual. There is no threat to wanting to changethe current structure or relationships found within society.The next two quadrants are not interested in maintaining status quo, but of socialchange. The radical functionalist views society as being objectively “out there” and isinterested in changing the structures because of inequities and contradictions foundwithin 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 isto change social relationships that are found to be oppressive and unequal with regard topower. Transformation, emancipation or freedom, and critical analysis involving thesubjugation of individuals or groups are the project of educators with this view.The current research sits comfortably within the radical humanist (Figure 4) sensebecause of its focus on investigating how individuals and this group, from their subjectivevantage point as psychiatric survivors, understand their experiences. Once “coded” in a32subjective way, the shift is on changing the nature of the relationships in which theseindividuals find themselves. The transformations that occur are done from the viewpointof the participants, rather than the researcher. Amendments to social relationships aresubjective. By comparison, key relationships experienced by psychiatrically diagnosedFigure 4: A map of social change and education theory and philosophy into four broadapproaches and the relationship among them. (Paulston, 1996)individuals, namely the medical ones, run diametrically opposite to the aim of thisresearch. Doctors tend to be within the functionalist paradigm, whereby medical scienceof bodies is something outside individuals and their focus is on “fixing” or bringinghealth back to a status quo.VIEW OF SOCIETY CHANGEFocus on relationships and changingheir nature to transform how selfeality”K4DI(!L STR( ( ‘Tt R1LISTFocus on structures and changing structuresto chanic real 1\”Draws upon Nco—Marxist theor\SUBJECTIVITY“Will Be”OBJECTIVE“REALITY”HL\/4VISTReaIit” as constructed b selfUses ethnourapll\ plienomenolouFl V(7IVILLS’T“Reaht\” s “outside. fixed. and tanufible“Be-ing”VIEW OF STATUS QUO“Must Be”33Popular Adult EducationIncreasingly, structured and negotiated adult education is taking place within educationalenvironments. Briefly, in North America, much adult education began outside formalinstitutions. In the United States, during the early to mid twentieth century, bothLindeman (1929) and Knowles (1980) began their work in the “community” institution ofthe YMCA. Similar to Lindemann, other adult educators, like Cameron and Corbett inCanada drew on the thinking of Grundtvig and his conception of Danish folk highschools and Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy (Leighton & Leighton, 1982). In Canada, atthe 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 initiativesincluded Moses Coady and Father Tompkins’ work in creating the Antigonish Movement(Alexander, 1997), the Banff School, Farmers’ Radio Forum, Women’s Institutes andFrontier College. In the United States, the focus was on social justice and broadeningdemocracy.Adult education entered its “golden era” from the I 960s until the early I 980swhen a number of adult educators and educationalists offered a variety of views about therole, form and process of educating adults. While many adult educators of the timeoperated within the non-formal arenas of adult education, Freire’s and Boal’s focus wason popular education. Their work situates my project. I draw on the writings of theseeducation theorists, in part, in order to dovetail with the framework and focus ofperformative inquiry. These popular educators were participatory and non-formal,34placing themselves among the people to co-create grassroots access to educationalexperiences.AndragogyDrawing from the writings of Knowles (1950, 1989), Table 1 synthesizes the assumptionsof andragogy in relation to the general approach taken within this study. The experienceof cast members within the development of performance, rather than on the resultingproduction, was the research focus. Merriam and Brockett’s (1996) definition of adulteducation guides this study:Activities intentionally designed for the purpose of bringing aboutlearning among those whose age, social roles, or self-perception definethem as adults. (p. 8)This project resides in the realm of andragogy (See Table I on p. 36). Adultteaching and learning focus more on process than on content. Even though Knowles(1980) popularized a specialized theory for teaching adults, Alexander Kapp coined theterm “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 goalscoexist comfortably. (See Table 1) Within the broad definition of adult education, anumber 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 educationalstructures is shown that relies on Rogers (2003). This research is located somewhereclose (Figure 5, marked by X) to Participatory Education:Set Structure Negotiated Structure No Structure. . .x .Formal Non-Formal Participatory In formalEducation Education Education LearningFigure 5: A continuum of structure in adult education35Table 1A Comparison of Knowles’ Andragogy to the Current Research.KNOWLES’ ASSUMPTIONS IN EVIDENCE FROM WITHINANDRAGOGY SHAKEN NOT DISTURBEDAs adults mature they move from a Cast members were living in dependentdependent to independent personality circumstances because of the influence ofmedical and social work authorities, yet all ofthem lived independently within the town.As a person matures a greater accumulation The accumulation of lived experience wasof experience is realized being a rich source evident as the group explored various issues offor further learning living with a psychiatric label. An addeddimension was everyday life experience felt moredeeply than would be expected, i.e., small talk issupported by pronounced levels of animation, orbeing told to do something rather than beingasked generates feelings of anger.Maturity fosters an increasing desire to focus Within Shaken and the exploration of lives, thelearning 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 castto learning tasks for immediate application members. Process drove the learning and was theso the focus also changes away from content- outcome, in particular popular theatre and thedriven, to process-centred frame of performative inquiry.As a person matures the motivation to learn This became evident when interviewing castbecomes internalized, members at the end of the project, whenindividuals shared their understanding of shifts intheir self-concept.PRiNCIPLES OF ANDRAGOGY EVIDENCE FROM WITHINSHAKEN NOTDISTURBEDAdults need to be involved in the planning While the initial planning did not have aand evaluation, particular group in mind, when decisions weremade the group shared in them. Notably at thebeginning, the group drove the decision to find anew meeting place and time. They also had finalsay on whether the poultry barn worked for theperformance.Experience is the basis for learning. Theatre is experience-based and process-basedand it’s from this, learning occurred.Relevance to everyday living. The context of each cast member’s life wasplaced centrally in the explorations and learningoccurring within each weekly meeting.Problem centred. A central problem the cast faced was the cycle ofunemployment being common among psychiatricsurvivors. This was transformed into a cycle offorum theatre. This process has, at its heart,problem-posing performance engaging anaudience.36Formal education occurs within a relatively fixed structure where the group is consideredunchanging, even though individuals within it may come and go. Negotiated structuresare affected by the comings and goings of participants because group energies shiftaccording to personalities present. As members change, dynamics become renegotiatedensuring a cohesive group. Non-formal education, as portrayed in Figure 5, includesstructured educational projects falling outside of institutional arrangements. Non-formal“schools” fit here. They are more egalitarian and have a temporary, casual approach toeducation. Participatory education is much more than that affected by individual groupmembership and, often, process can be more important than the content of what is taught.Table 2 illustrates how each complements the other.Table 2Why Do Adult Education and Performative Inquiry Co-exist Well?ADUE .T EDUCATION PERFORMATI VE INQUIRYShared Phmning and Evaluation The group determines hai will be exploredand how.Experiential Learning Embodied performance and interacting withothers is the basis for experiential learning.Everyday Life Everyday issues and problems the group isinterested in are explored.Problem Centred The process of performative inquiry is aboutproblems and the generation of deeperquestions, rather than complete and wholeanswers.Working in a group develops group roleswithin it and from there these can becometransferred into the broader lives and socialSocial Rolesroles.Internalized Learning Actions and interactions taken withinperformative inquiry are reflective ofinternalized learning. Reflections and thoughtguide a person’s behaviour.37Much community education and development work sits within the position ofparticipatory education on the continuum. The current arts-based educational projectresides within participatory education and informal learning of the adult education. Theearly definition of informal education described learning as being wholly constructed andnegotiated by the individual. The person’s lifelong learning project is the focus of theresearch. By splitting “informal” into participatory education and informal learning, theslipperiness of the term “informal education” can be reduced (Rogers, 2003).Popular EducationFreire (1970) suggested breaking down dynamics of oppression by opening up space tomake things more visible (Figure 6). By facing one’s location within society andSecondary Researchon Mental Disorderf Evaluation andFinal ThesisONEFigure 6: A diagram of Freire’s culture circle38recognizing the invisible forces locking out-groups in place as powerless, Freireenvisioned “cultural circles.” These spaces were where oppressed groups worked outsidethe pull of prevailing norms (Freire & Faundez, 1989). Within these constructedopenings, while remaining in the affected community, a cycle of community learning andsocial awareness is embraced. Through being taught concepts, experience-basedmeanings behind ideas help illustrate freedom’s reduction, removal or rejection. Withinthis current project, theatre training replaces Freire’s literacy focus. The group engaged insystematically creating codifications and decodJIcations. Through their performativeexplorations and creations, the co-searchers explored topics of oppression, describing,naming and deconstructing barriers to living more freely. This dynamic resonates withperformative inquiry’s praxis that “through form and simultaneously the destruction ofform” emerges creative action (Fels, 1998). In other words, through systems and patternsin living and the changing (which involves destruction of these pre-existingarrangements) these as new awareness arises, imaginative new potentials for beingunfold. Issues relate to people’s lives in the community (Freire, 1970, 1997). A key to theentry 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), theongoing project of increased critical consciousness toward conscientization isstrengthened (Freire, 1970; 1997). With the inclusion of performative inquiry and populartheatre, novel insights occur through the improvisational theatre process as bodies learnthrough inter-reaction. This is a variation of the Freirian theme. The ultimate goal iscreating a liberatory education for those feeling they can neither alter their worlds, norfeel they have the right to change.39TABLE 3Connecting Freirian Adult Education Principles to Performative Inquiry Methodology, PopularTheatre Methods, Absurdist Forms to SHAKEN: NOT DISTURBED.FREIRE/LIBERATORY PERFORMATIVE POPULAR ABSIIRDISM SHAKEN NOTADULT EDUCATION INQUiRY TUEATRE DISTURBEDPreliminary Investigation: Look for a group Announce my Interest is in an Found the groupTarget a group to work with availability alienated group first, thenand then understand the within a and seeks a researchedsituation of a group community and sense of psychiatricthen wait to be meaning for survivors andinvited in to itself. mentalwork with a disabilitiesgroupInvestigation: Observations Open with initial Meet with Look for Have castDecodify and Evaluation questions for group, develop contradictions members bring in“report findings” exploration opening group sense, in life experiences soout into further and identify group experiences— we can exploredeepened questions— issues, explore extend the myths andproblem pose rather issues through reasoning to power rituals— tothan find one solution theatrical absurd or report through aexercises, and satirical levels performancetheatre— develop black“training” comedicmomentsCulture Circle “Container” within “Rehearsal “Structures” of The “ritual” ofwhich chaotic and Process” to contradiction our weeklyopen performative explore and hyperbole meetings wereexplorations occur performatively containers for ourlife experience process anddevelopingperformancestructuresGenerative Themes —Create Key Questions to Key Processes Key Employment,a complex picture of keep in mind when that support Contradictory Psychiatricexperiences being political exploring process and questions and Structures Power, Poverty,structures structures DeathCodification— identify Sub-questions; Look at pieces How do Employmentsmaller parts of themes probing questions of myths and smaller pieces theme: brokenemerge through process rituals contradict one intoperformatively that construct another and Looking for workexploring larger the larger issue still remain in a El Appeal Panelquestion and the powers cohesive form Faking Itthat keep them Filling the Gapin place New JobUnemploymentThe ritual repeats40fFREIRE PERYORMATIVE POPULAR - SHAKEN NOTINQUIRY TREATRE DISTURBEDDecodification: Opening the question Alter Ego Serious and Hypnosis gameproblematize a theme performatively exercise, Body Comedic as drugthrough: What If? So Guard Forms dependency,What? Who cares? movement, Exaggeration Body GuardWhat matters? Hypnosis of movement, exercise asQuestions drive the exercise, facial reactions, automaton workexploration deeper in Mirrors, clown-like world,the issues, processes Forum Theatre, characters, Alter Ego sceneand structures— as Newspaper Factual depicting thethis is done old forms Theatre, Overheads in tension betweenare destroyed to make Invisible comedic scene patient care andway for new ways of Theatre drug companybeing salesmen andbonuses“Buster”character inEmploymentReflective Learning in Moments of Play with Play with Emotions can beAction recognition; the myths and social and controlled byStopped moments social rituals institutional individuals ratherwhen insights are supporting structures than emotionssparked broader issues controlling one’sbehaviour; Whois an economicdrain on society?Publicly paidprofessionals orpsychiatricsurvivors?Conscientization: a Ask deeper questions Through Examine Repressivedeepened awareness of looking at smaller creating and structures reactions moresocial issues and one’s and smaller performing contradicting reflective ofplace in society are not as constituent parts processes of themselves to others’ fear thanfixed and permanent as creates a stronger oppressive create openings of anypreviously thought understanding of relationships for using satire, impairment—social questions comes a greater humour to suicide is aunderstanding highlight the constructionof how power absurdity of based on falseand oppression superficial consciousness—operate appearances killing one’s selfcreates stress forloved ones ratherthan alleviates itas in the SuicidalSally scene41FREIRE. .... PERFORMATIVE POPULAR ABSTJRDISM SHAKEN: NOT. .. QUWY THEATRE..:. :...DISTURBEDSocial Action: ways to Further questions to The act of Find ways to The cast offeredchange society once a cycle keep in mind should performing as a rethink recommendationsof popular education has further social action social action structures.... for action at thebeen completed be considered falls out of the Change end of the playpopular theatre contradictory (Chapter 5)process during structuresexploringissues —includingadditionalpopular theatrecyclesFreire’s work unlocks the field of popular education allowing pedagogy andandragogy 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 powerto shape various in- and out-groups, the moulding of interests and authorities within asociety and those “owning” language and speaking for others.Boal, through Freire’s work, opened up the field of popular education, allowingcritical education and cultural workers to focus on creative education projects (Boal,1974, 1992). Within this study, there was an affirmation of collective popular theatreprocess and critical emancipatory perspectives of art. In this project, the creation of theplay, Shaken Not Disturbed with a Twist, made concrete the issues of the group’soppression to interrupt, disturb and, ultimately, transgress experiences of powerlessness.This research moved the discussion into new directions, namely, disabled people’sperformativity and theatre. Table 3 connects Freirian Adult Education Principles toPerformative Inquiry Methodology, Popular Theatre Methods, Absurdist Forms asunfolded in Shaken Not Disturbed with a Twist. Popular adult education is conversant42with performative inquiry and popular theatre (Table 3) and with what transpired withinShaken: Not Disturbed.Performative InquiryThis study relied on performative inquiry centrally as its research methodology (Fels,1998). The study’s approach employed both popular theatre processes and absurdistforms to explore in co-creative ways their experiences of living with psychiatricdiagnoses (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, toarrive at what is at the heart of performative inquiry:And the prefix persuddenly takes ona split-personalitywhenjuxtaposedwith formmeaning “utterly, throughout and through “formbut also“to do away, away entirely or to [the]destruction” offormIs performance action both within, through and without form?In our reading ofperformancewe imaginea creative action-interactiona birthing and rebirthingsimultaneously withinform and the destruction offormand suddenlyfind ourselvesin an unexpected spacebetween structure and chaos [bolding mine] (Fels, 1999, p.48)43Thus, suggests Fels it is “through form and simultaneously through the destruction ofform 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 thetheoretical playground of complexity theorists, “the edge of chaos,” a generative space oflearning, creating and re-creating. Within this enactive and interactive environment ofperformative explorations, questions help frame the inquiry: What matters? What If? Sowhat? (Fels & Meyer, 1997).• What matters? The methodology focuses on complex dynamics at an embodied levelin order to deconstruct experiences important to individuals• What if? The uncovering of new questions through initial inquiry is about the openingof possibilities.• So What? A sense of empowerment, control and the exploration of identity. All ofthis occurs in a “framed space” (my term) apart from, but connected to, the lives ofthe individuals involved. In this environment, a ritualized “container” for learningbegins to emerge (Fels, 1998, pL33).The learning, which emerged from within this performative inquiry, was teasedout through combinations and permutations of body-memory, emotions, experiences andsenses. Examples of unfolding awareness occurring among the cast are described inChapter 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 anoun (Fels, 1998). This methodology is, at a fundamental level, a physical and concreteapproach to experiential learning. As interactivity occurs, collaborative interpretationsimultaneously unfolds. In a new group, the function of power has to be negotiated. Forsome 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 bymotivations of “wanting to” and “needing to.” The co-searchers’ evolving sense of44performance mirrors the shift from being externally guided to being internally motivatedto explore one’s self.The Biological Roots ofPerformative InquiryPerformative inquiry relies on the intricate systems model provided by biology(Maturana, 1995; Maturana & Varela, 1992; Varela, Thompson & Rosch, 1992). Severalkey terms from enactivist literature apply to performative inquiry. Embodied knowledgeis collectively created as cast members experience the yet-to-be-discovered. Of particularinterest, are concepts of drift, flow, and autopoiesis because they were evident in theunfolding of experience when working with the co-searchers.Dr,ft occurs through letting go of preconceptions, of presumptions of knowingand 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 inreturn (Varela, Thompson & Rosch, 1991).Flow describes the total involvement of the mind-bodies of all involved, to theexclusion 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 thepossibility one’s self will be opened to understandings about the world. This goal alsomoves people toward one of the goals of existentialism (to be discussed later): to acceptothers knowing others accept you. Being vulnerable to another’s perspective creates anexperience 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 continuouslyreproducing themselves, just as this group continually did each time it met. Translating45this concept into society is the notion various social groups, systems of power andindividuals perpetuate their existence through continual engagement as part of anenvironment. The untangling of an individual from the society becomes virtuallyimpossible.Enactivist RootsEnactivists believe learning is shaped by interactive and embodied structures ofexistence. The shift in insight results in changing perceptions of the world (Fenwick1999). Complexity. Complicity. Structures can contain system shifts but these structuralrestrictions do not automatically cause change. Through raised awareness, interstandingduring a performative exploration helps illustrate experience as being of one’s ownmaking in conjunction with others. Interstanding arises from co-creation. This sharedawareness becomes important as a reflection of the co-searchers’ emergent learning(including the researcher’s) and comprehension of voice, identity and power. Castmembers’ interactions within the larger social world are implicated by unfolding newinterpretations of experience.Enactivism is dependent on “interstanding” (Fels, 1998; 2003; Hocking, Haskell& lAnds, 2001; Taylor & Saarinen, 1994). Also, this theory envisions individualsdeconstructing various aspects of life stories. Interrogation of form was exercised amongthe co-searchers while seeking new awareness. Group members worked from withinrepressive systems of medicalized power. In turn, the effects of oppression wereimplicated in the performative work of the cast. As a collective finds its senses of identitychanging, echoes are felt within systems of power and control (Reid, 2002). As newknowledge unfolds, old insights are revised by being destroyed or changed. Within46enactivist research (Reid, 1996), “analysis” is conceptualized as being a co-evolution ofideas born through active interpretation. Here is another place where Freirian culturecircles resonate with performative inquiry (Table 3).Theory and “data” (acts of interpretation) co-emerge through the interactionswithin the group. As this study’s explorations deepened, the theoretical anticipations ofperformative inquiry were made manifest through the practice of popular theatre.Awareness of experience was located within the inter-relations among co-searchers andnew understandings emerged. Performative inquiry, through popular theatre (in anabsurdist 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 ofassociations collide, are played with, turned inside out and brought together within theprocess of co-evolution. Over time, “moments of recognition” can be brought together toform a structure through action. Collectively, these turning points become “mapping inreflection” or a coherent “laying down a path in walking” (Fels, 1998; Machado, 1983;Varela, 1987). Within the play, Shaken: Not Disturbed, various scenes and movementpieces were the cast’s own version of reflective, thematic mapping of its explorations.Knowledge ReconceptualizedAs the learner co-creates new and emerging knowledge and experiences in theimmediacy of the moment, an experiencing of “losing one’s self’ or “finding the flow” inthe action occurs (Csikszentmihalyi, 1998; Maturana, 1995). This focussed experience isthe ultimate opening up of the context to new learning within a collective. As learnersraise 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 morebroadly within the larger context, the identity of learner(s) also changes: somethingwhich occurred within this study. Performative inquirers, like enactivists, understandsocial knowledge is conjured through complex and complicated interactions (with)in theworld of lived experiences; through an engagement within relationships (Reid, 1996).Just as the notion of what “counts” as “knowledge” is reconceptualized throughenactivism, performative co-searchers re-envision the concept of insight, or moments oflearning, occurring within perfonnative interactions. This is where popular theatre’sprocess intersects with the theoretical underpinnings of performative inquiry: “knowledgeis creating” (Fels, 1995, p. 37) (Table 3).The co-mingling of body-minds within this work shifts the focus of the researcherfrom looking at the parts (individuals) of a system (society) to focus on relationshipswithin it. Learning is examined within the in-betweenness among people rather thanindividuals themselves. Because of an intentional delving into relationships previouslyignored, a sense of something “non-visible” slowly emerged as recognizable andconcrete. To bring forth the not-seen or not yet known, something needs to jar theperceptually peaceful order of things. By doing so, what was hidden by taken-forgrantedness is dislocated into being noticed as unfamiliar. For example, recognizingawareness as shared action, rather than simply an individual’s sole responsibility was amemorable moment within the group. A key moment occurred when the cast, collectivelydrafted the “Mental Seeking Mental” (Appendix G) romance advertisement for the show.As words were played with and mainstream concepts were transformed into48psychiatrically laden experiences, the profound sense of sexuality and mental disorderemerged 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 Chapters4 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 structuredwork, games are important because of their spontaneity and conviviality. The apparentfrivolity allows an individual’s awareness to covertly make experiential connectionsoutside 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 formsin order to create new potentials of possibility. Approaches to performative inquiry caninvolve 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 freelyblurring individuals’ boundaries) of the co-searchers’ workings, creating a “container” tohouse 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 governmentamong others. Even while the group explored, recent experiences percolated into currentexplorations. New questions emerged and were sent out to inform the lives of themembers. While the group tried to keep everything within the “container” isolated, whatoccurred was a constant “bleeding” back and forth between the performative inquiry and49larger society. Within this study, for example, a ritual was constructed to “contain” theopening and closing of time and space to sharpen the border between our process ofpopular theatre and its “nesting” within the broader systems of the cast’s lives. The ritualsof 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, yetthe space was filled with random and intentional interactions. The two, in part, allowedfor the creativity and novelty of insights to occur (Bell, 1995). Performance requiresindividuals to come together in random, ambiguous and, at times, chaotic motion andrelationships 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 actsof remembering through embodied actions and increased awareness. Too many oppressedlives fall into a vacuum of silence of being “never-known.” Those participating in thisproject were among those often non-visible to many individuals in society.Performatively inquiring does not explore what is known about the world, but dares toseek out what is not known or recognized. Guided by illuminating questions, the lightcan fall more clearly on the question this project began with in its desire to excavateincreasingly complex queries. The study began with the following question: IT’77at shiftsoccur within a group ofrural adults living with mental disorder(s) as it develops andpresents 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 away unique to the group of co-searchers. Within performative inquiry, momentary50instances or “stops” transpire (Applebaum, 1995) when a flash of insight occurs within aparticular space and time. In the search for connection space-moments, or “ahas” ofinsight, ping into embodied thought. These moments emerge when co-searchers leastexpect them (adding to the power of the “stop”). Examples of “the stop” are described inChapter 5. In an instant, new awareness emerges: participants momentarily experiencethe 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 inmapping awareness “falling out” from a performative inquiry is the development of aperformance as was done with Shaken: Not Disturbed. The continual improvising withinpopular theatre performance allows for the initial exploration to continue, evolution todeepen 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 wellas through group and individual contemplation that follows. Time plays a key role for theemergence of new insights. Mapping in reflection creates an opportunity to reviewinstances when popping of awareness may have occurred but was not recognized as suchat the time. By reflecting back over the experience to connect when insights occurredcreates a sense of whole and meaning, despite the project remaining open and contingent.Even after the collective recounting of the experience, a shared meaning-makingexercise, further understandings may emerge through ongoing conversations and51explorations over time. The openness of the process anticipates this playing withexperience to continue even outside of the inquiry itself.Popular Theatre: Collective Meaning-MakingPopular education’s philosophy supports popular theatre practice. The process usedwithin 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 communitiesto 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 andtheatre projects.Generous LOVING heartHUMILITYRESPECTfor others TOLERANCEJOYFUL disposition LOVE oflifeCOMMON SENSEwelcome CHANGE PERSEVERANCE inspirit ofHOPEREFUSAL OF DETERMINISMOPENNESS TO JUSTICEEach of these elements was found in the group, with cast members as cosearchers expressing the same values to one another. When participants experienced gapsin understanding, they learned through the cast’s shared stories and experiences. Becauseof this sharing of similar values among the group, the project was ultimately quitesuccessful. Each new project contains varying combinations of these characteristics, butCOURAGEOPENNESS to newnessstruggle52centrally the container holding them all has to be the educator’s central, critical curiosityfor lives lived outside the norm (Freire, 1970; 1997).Contemplating Popular TheatreIn an effective popular education project, an animator or cultural worker is invited in bythe community to work with it. Citizens explore social, economic, identity, power orother local issues, while analyzing dynamics, evolving plots and emerging changes. Tobe effective as an adult educator working within social justice, the cultural worker needsto 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 powerfulrelationship. The aim is to uncover misunderstanding, as well as awareness, whiledisrupting “other” imposed limitations: to empower. In the midst of wanting to get “thegood stuff,” the risk of over-exposure of one’s self to the public leaves the individualfeeling vulnerable (Salverson, 1996, 1997). This dynamic of encouraging over-exposureof personal stories can be exploitive or empowering, depending on the intent behind thesharing and the individual making the request.Numerous systems of popular theatre abound. However, most include the role offacilitator working with a community group by providing process tools, approaches andguidance 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 restswithin the revealed path resulting from embodied processes within the whole group(Bappa and Etherton, 1983; Bates, 1996). Incorporating a popular theatre cycle within aperformative 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. Throughexplorations 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 whilecreating new life imaginings. Popular theatre and performative inquiry resonate withwhere the facilitator is located. Both can have the cultural worker “outside” theimmediacy of the group’s interactions. On the other hand, the worker may be locatedwithin the process, performing alongside the cast as with this study. In this role, I workedfrom within the group as a fellow traveller to prod, challenge, experiment and offerproposals. When the group disagreed with my suggestions, co-searchers were encouragedto veto. Within popular theatre, power shifts in fluid ways among members. Thefacilitator’s responsibility also bestows on him or her a degree of power, to be used toopen up exploration or oppress and stifle creativity. The potential to exploit is ever-present. The ability to encourage or foster empowerment is equally pervasive. Whatfosters 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: theuse of story and character to describe histories or communication of information andideas (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 alsobegins where the players or cast members are located in their experiences. Performative54explorations move participants into unknown or unremembered regions of experience andbeing. Thus, the process and learner co-evolve. Everything is in flux.Barba ‘s ApproachBarba’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 tocommunicate. Under Barba’s guidance, each actor develops an individual regime ofphysical movement practice and warm up. A person’s approach to training is aboutexploration of physicality, thought, emotion and voice, rather than simply acquiringskills. Unlike Boal’s theorization, methodological approaches and his presumedsplintering of body and mind, performative inquiry envisions a stronger reliance on aninter-relationship between the two. A training cycle, with Barba, occurs when eachparticipant uses a variety of improvisational exercises to focus on an area ofdevelopment. This continues until a personal “system” is created and used until no furtherbenefit is gained (Barba, 1995). Once this process is exhausted, a new cycle ofexploration commences. Working repetitively through exercises embracing body-mind,to remember ‘extra-daily’, or theatrical behaviour (Barba, 1995), the actor develops arepertoire of movements to be called on quickly for more random and dynamicexploration. One of popular theatre’s strengths, as it is within a performative inquiry, isthe importance of group reflection and dialogue for reaching conscientization (Freire,1970). Both performative inquiry and popular theatre “speak” to the learning process innewer and more complex ways.“Sats” or the moments just before action and the intention supporting them areused as an entrance into understanding unfolding experiences (Barba, 1997). These55motions are examined to elicit potentially different outcomes. Using random chance forconnections to create new insights in a broader sense allows for working through morenarrowly defined, concrete issues seen as repressive by group members. Performativeinquiry looks with a predetermined sense, preferring to play within and among bodieswhile keeping an eye out for accidental physical, social, political and relationalassociations pointing the way into life in the margins. The more focussed the flow ofexploration and less inhibited the play, greater potential existed for opening moreinsightful queries.The Popular Theatre ProcessIn 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 theatreengagement (Figure 5). While defined boundaries for each period are described, inpractice each container in the process pours itself into the next. Also, back-splashing toearlier stages occurs. Occasionally, a need arises to rebuild the group because of newmembers joining (Mastai, 1987; Prentki and Selman, 2000; Spry, 1994).The first stage, group formation, the goal is for the facilitator and communitygroup to co-merge as one through play, trust and, ultimately, risk-taking. The culturalworker informing the community often initiates this coming together. Once the existenceof the performative adult educator is known, continual contact is maintained with thecommunity, while the facilitator waits for the invitation to work with a particular localgroup. When the practitioner is allowed in, a period of group development and cohesionfollows. This includes a period of games and exercises. Their aim is the formation of trust56within the group, acquainting all participants with (inter)acting among bodies andthrough physically relating with one another (Salverson, 1996). Exploring theatricalexpression involves a process whereby the facilitator offers ways for non-actors or thoseunacquainted with the arts to play with these processes.Coupled with the previous phase, this second stage commences when thefacilitator feels more in the “lead,” aid is in a position of offering to the co-searchersvarious aspects of theatre: voice, movement, improvisation, story-telling, interactivity,working with image, emotions and other elements of interest to the group for itsparticular project. As the risk of one exercise is played out, various tools and exercisesare introduced so participants grow to understand what theatre “feels like” and what artcan do to aid members in forming their public voice. Exploration of co-searchers’ storiesthrough initial theatre exercises, imagery, and short scenes is similar to Freiriancodification. Further exploring issues and interpreting questions through additional storyinvestigation and development, like decodification, opens up possibilities for disruptingoppression while creating avenues toward empowerment. Performative inquiry envisionssimilar tools and processes as well (Fels, 1998; Saldana, 1998; Selman, 1987).The third stage, performance development, begins once a degree of comfortwithin the group and with processes of theatre making emerged. Some practitioners havea narrow view of what a production “looks like.” Other cultural workers leave thedevelopment 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 cosearchers exist: in a subtle power differential. This is a period for many emotional, sharedstories. 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 eachof them to be seen as any other person in society: as “normal.” What fpeople withpsychiatric 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 movedthe group to explore the first of its key themes: employment. So much of society isimplicated by one’s employment status. This group was no different. Each populartheatre group or project is unique. It requires the flexibility of a gentle, guiding hand ofthe popular theatre worker.Figure 7: A popular theatre cycle58A key within this process’s stage is the exploration and transformation ofvulnerable and victimizing stories into universal ideas, metaphors or signposts ofoppression. These windows for exploration and growth are sources to find power in thetelling. Investigations supporting popular theatre performances are hidden from publicview, but they are critically important because workshop explorations directly inform andshape the presentation’s ultimate structure and content. Within the Freirian (1970)perspective, this is a period of codification (the telling of stories), decodification (pullingthe experiences apart) and (re)codification (reshaping the elements into moreuniversalized fictions of empowerment and performative elements) (Table 3). As partsare conjured through interactions and carried out among group members, a penultimatemoment is the construction of a performance.The fourth stage occurs when a particular group feels ready. During this stage, thecast presents their explorations publicly. Arrangements for a public presentation are madeto perform in front of an audience. Of great importance is where a presentation takesplace. The importance of a show’s framing, through the physical location of the buildingand 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, tounderstand what insights were gleaned from the experience. Feedback encompassesdebriefing sessions immediately following performances. It also entails, as was done inthis study, conducting individual interviews with cast members without the influence ofthe 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 notreside 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 theatreexperience into social knowledge through community action. Imagining one theatre-making experience will suffice for creating any sort of prolonged social action is shortsighted (Bates, 1996). For many communities, the notion and processes of popular theatreare unknown. As a result, making connections within the larger community often takesmore than one occurrence for sustained local actions to transpire.Popular theatre is the process. The forms incorporated within the work weredrawn 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 toplay with symbols and relationships to meaning.Forms of Absurdity To Inform LifeDon ‘t walk behind me,I may not leadDon ‘t walk in front meI may notfollowJust walk beside me and be myfriend (Camus, 1955)ExistentialismAccording 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 throughtheir interrelating within and as part of the worlds they inhabit. By “freely” acting within60their experiential environments, their human awareness comes to be, through thisinteraction, in a way similarly envisioned by performative inquiry. Simultaneously,individuals independently choose their interactions. Concurrently, they are alsointerconnected 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 livinghaving no innate essential qualities. We, as individuals, put significance into experiencewhere none exists. Faced with this lack of outside determinants for interpreting,existentialists say individuals are faced with angst in having to choose our own humannature, principles and values.You will never be happy f you continue to search for what happinessconsists 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 personan individual imagines him-/herself as being is central. Responsibility accompanies thischoice. 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, byjust letting our selves be, the responsibility is one of simply allowing everything andeveryone 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 whatothers want. In this case, to fall means a “breaking away” or “estrangement” from what itis to be authentically human (Sartre, 1948). To live in an authentic manner is living withthe responsibility of free will, while taking into account other individuals. Anotherinstance occurs when individuals completely disregard the existence of others and arefundamentally focussed on their interests, as an island in a sea of society. Much bad faith61emerges 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 authenticitybecomes erased; what is left is a caricature of someone else’s vision. This, in turn, is thereflection of yet another and so on. This is one source of absurdism: the desire toconstruct a false image of one’s self in order to be accepted by another. In turn, the firstobserver is simultaneously reflecting the image of still another and so on. All of this isperpetuated for the sake of acceptance, belonging and meaning. This illustrates feelingsof an existential anguish because along with free choice, there is striving towardauthenticity. The responsibility for genuineness is also borne in through “making theright choices.” As selections are made, existentialists ask the person to keep in mind: Asone individual chooses a way of being, actions of responsibility directed toward others inthe world must be acknowledged. Because humans are alone with each other, they mustexist with one another in harmony. If this is incorporated into the processes ofperformative inquiry, bad faith does not exist easily because of the deep attention eachparticipant has to offer up into the project of co-creating meaning. This meaning is not ofsome thing as in the typical notion of knowledge, but through a process involving othersas each shares aspects of their selves to a larger collective project.Existentialists speak of a forlornness arising when individuals come to theunderstanding “God is dead.” Humans are in the world alone and the consequences ofthis realization is one of feeling lost, disconnected and forlorn (Sartre, 1946). Nootherworldly entity guiding the fate of people exists. People carry out acts alone withoutthe omnipotent guidance of an invisible being. Related to this is the idea of existentialdespair because each person’s place in the world is uncertain. The consequences of62actions are never assured beforehand. One certainty is death. All efforts, while alive, areimplicitly aimed toward eventually leaving this life. Everything carried out has to be donein relation to one’s ultimate leaving. Groups of people live in this way where death isonmipresent yet unforeseen: individuals surviving oppression and poverty; the constantexperience of death in agriculture, those whose employment puts them in constantjeopardy and those individuals constructed as targets of violence. Ultimately, with thisdemise is the utter lack of meaning in terms of one’s living. This is the source of anotherabsurdity. Individuals put great stock toward constructing themselves in all sorts ofelaborate 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 wherethere ultimately is none. People live; people die. Any meaning arising is done within theimmediacy between or among individuals’ interactions. Meaning is fleeting.Figure 8, on page 67, brings all the pieces together. Everything occurs withineveryday life. Adult education is almost as large and encompassing as living is becausemost of the time adults are engaged in some aspect of learning. What is demonstratedvisually is how this study could be placed within the lives of the cast. In a more definedway (the thicker broken lines), the co-searchers worked broadly within andragogy andrelied upon the framework of performatively inquiring. With these two pieces framingthe work, popular theatre aided in narrowing down the exploration into the realm ofabsurd art, in a sort of bull’s eye form. Arrows indicate the study is fairly defined withinthe lives of the group. Pathways for awareness are realized in the group to make it out totheir broader lives and vice versa. Art and life seep into one another through the porouscharacter of the performative inquiry “container.”63Within the environment the group developed for itself, over several months ofworking together, the labelled scenes also indicate how the explorations unfolded. Webegan with our time together by playing and learning to know one another. This work isbasic to adult education, which is why it remains surrounding and holding the study. Asthe sides of the container became more known, through theatre exercises and the weeklyrituals, the group began to turn inward more to understand the issues. We started withperformative inquiries using the popular theatre process of stories, through tableaux andshort superficial vignettes, to further engage with the material. Just as performativeinquiry both contained the work and opened explorations up more fully, so did populartheatre. As the focus moved from strictly inquiring into how to present our experience,we drew increasingly upon popular theatre approaches. To concretize our work morefully 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 someinstances this occurred.Absurdism ‘s FormsThe universe seems to me infinitely strange and foreign. At such amoment I gaze upon it with a mixture of anguish and euphoria; separatefrom the universe, as though placed at a certain distance outside it; I lookand see pictures, creatures that move in a kind of timeless time andspaceless space emitting sounds that are a kind of language I no longerunderstand or ever register” (lonesco, 1959).The word “absurd” originated from music-making to indicate being out ofharmony withsurrounding tonality. Later, its means transformed to being out ofharmony withprevailing society, to being illogical. Currently, it is defined as being ridiculous (Hoad,1993, p. 125). A mainstream theatre academic, Martin Esslin (1961; 1976), reflecting64back from the 1 960s to the 1 940s, coined the definitive term in order to critique the workof 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 disconnectedfrom one another was more for the purpose of ease of working with a label, rather thanconstructing any real sense of dramatic “movement.” In 1948, Artaud theorized theimpulses and aspirations absurdist art sought out. Absurdism’s target is assaulting andundermining entrenched rational and existential assumptions of society, while erodingaway collective social illusions (such as meritocracy, democracy, equality, charity, justiceand fairness). Absurdism relies on an open, heightened appeal to emotions in order toaffect the body-mind of the spectator. Protest and resistance are the underpinningelements of absurdity through the making of fun by extending commonsense reason intoexaggeration. Efforts begin by defamiliarizing the world, while deconstructing theassumptions fixing status quo perspectives in place. The absurdist strategy is one ofcreating a dream-like, nightmarish state (Gaenbauer, 1991). The grotesque occurs in astate of disconnection while responding to a perceived lack of meaning and order in thelived world (Bakhtin, 1956). Ugly distortions serve to shake spectators’ confidence intheir ways of understanding the social world, but the foundation of truths and valuessupporting beliefs remain. Absurdity shifts values and truths into strange and unfamiliarterritory; curiosity defamiliarizes taken-for-granted relationships.Carnival (Bakhtin, 1956) is conceptualized as sites for freeing previouslyrepressed and marginalized desires, expressions and identities. The world is seen as a65“hail of mirrors” (Brustein, 1964, 1971), with reality merging with fantasy. Absurdperformances are about episodic contradictions, or disharmony, rather than rationalcauses/effects of plots. The structure is either circular or one gradually increasing inintensity. Absurdism is a theatre of situation rather than consequence, so it fits wellwithin 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 notuse dichotomy by separating and elevating rationalism over emotions as with Brecht. Thepreference is a unified emotional body. Movement in juxtaposition is critical for thistheatre. This is likened to the shamanic trance of sound to move beyond the apparent intothe previously unknown (Schutzman, 1994). Reliance is on symbolism used to highlightelements reminding spectators that signs of oppression exist in ways experienced actionsor contexts do. Borrowing from Brecht (1972), absurdists defamiliarize taken-for-grantedhabits of being through alienation rituals of distorted repetition, separation of actor fromcharacter and ability to embody both oppressor and oppressed within one person or roleand movement such as rhythm and mirroring. The fourth wall is removed within someabsurdist 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 ofcommunity learning and activity: mixing the real with the artificial, as was done withinthe 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 theircharacters by playing themselves and through expressing their portrayals as fact, the66fiction of their narratives (Grotowski, 1968) take on a pronounced sense of authenticity.Players living the experiences portrayed carry the weight and responsibility of legitimacyof their actions to a public not able to refute experiences they have not lived. The point of— POPULAR——I ADULTIc-)IEDUCA TIONEVERYDAY LIVING RURAL DISABILITYL JFIGURE 8: Showing the relationships of key theories during the weekly rehearsalsin connection with co-searchers’ lives.67rehearsing is self-realization by more clearly connecting selves as characters born out ofexperience. To be one’s self is to be one’s entire body-mind-experience. The goal is thedestruction 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 andrhythni to apparent pointlessness (Artaud, 1970; Mayberry, 1989). The everydayness oflife is stretched and contorted to find new ways of seeing life: searching for meaningthrough and among bodies interacting. More importantly, absurdism unearths values,beliefs, perceptions and practices others have imposed and promoted as having naturalmeaning in a world without pre-existing essence (Esslin, 1961).Absurd plays probe audiences to motivate them to ask questions so they canconstruct, for themselves, possible meanings. Spectators contribute significantly to themessage of the performance. Experiential and historical understandings of artefactsillustrate the leakage occurring with symbols, generally, and language, specifically(Zepetnek, 2002). Absurdists throw signs up, leaving understanding them open forspectators to “read in” as in Barthes’ (1978) notion of “readerly” text. Meaning often isdiscovered or changed after leaving the performance and on further distant reflection,talking and interaction. Audiences remain in a somewhat passive observing role, but in apersona specifying a type of spectator (Grotowski, 1968; Richards, 1995). Demanding anaudience “perform” can create a psychic block “shutting down” spectators in fear andnervousness, rather than remaining open to what is occurring around them (Grotowski,1968). Theatre brings together private and public truths to confront one another, whilegenerating a new social reality. Bleeding life into art allows the benefit of both to blend68into a new, richer way of being (Figure 8). Not recognizing, welcoming and engagingwith often-silenced worlds perpetuate Grotowski’s concern of abandonment occurring insociety by the centre, of the margins (Wolford, 1996). Absurdism questions the blindspots of the status quo, while disrupting surface harmony.Summary: Adult Popular Education Performatively InquiringThe broad conceptual framing for this research is radical humanism. Within this, thetransformation of relationships within subjectively constructed worlds is key. Within thisperspective, the philosophy and use of adult education as developed and fostered byFreire was drawn on. Popular adult education’s practice, principles and assumptions ofandragogy, as initially formulated by Lindemann, and later on Knowles, help informadult learning. Within the continuum set out by Rogers (2003), this study fits within thenegotiated and flexible structure of participatory education.A key aspect of popular education is drawing on the histories of learners within anexperiential atmosphere. Because performative inquiry’s focus is on the cast’sinteractions and creations, it too relies on experience as a process for learning. As withinradical humanism, performative inquiry works within relationships as sites for learningand social transformation. Within this study, performative inquiry is the researchmethodology and popular theatre process is incorporated alongside absurdist forms. Aswith popular theatre, performative inquiry blends physicality (knowing one’s body,making the body expressive, theatre as language, and theatre as discourse) with memoriesstored within one’s body. The psychological, emotional, experiential, lived, spiritual andmindful 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. Thiscorrespondence deepens explorations of performance to point out disempowerment andunfairness within society, particularly around non-visible oppression and inequities ofpower, identity and voice. The ability to freely associate, to create new knowledgethrough performative interactions, opens doors for possible new growth and(re)generation of identity and awareness. These opportunities are why the purposes ofthis study were achieved, namely, to disrupt “normal” ways of thinking about psychiatricdiversity by challenging prevailing notions of mental “illness” and create betterrelationships between psychiatrically diagnosed and other people. For an understandingof where performative inquiry would fit into the continuum of quantitative-qualitativeresearch paradigms please see Appendix A. The next chapter provides a brief outline ofdetails as to how the research was carried out: finding participants, the procedures taken,and how awareness was tracked.70CHAPTER THREEPROCEDURES: FOOTPRINTS OF THE STUDYIntroductionThe previous chapter explores the methodological framework within this research. Thisstudy was fixed within a radical humanist view. Also, the exploration linked popularadult 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 takento create the theatre experience is described within this procedures section.There is no “recipe” or “formula” for carrying out a performative inquiry orpopular theatre performance. The “footprints,” described here, were revealed in theirtreading. The process was marked by chaos and ambiguity. Flexibility to adapt to changein the midst of the process was critical. By outlining, in an overview, what these cosearchers did in this inquiry does not suggest that if the same steps were followed, similarthings 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-SearchersBefore 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 servedtwo 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 Valleyfeeling 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, childhoodabuse, poverty, and disability arrived to hear about the project. At the second meeting, agroup of members, with a counsellor from the local Open Door clubhouse, of Duncan’sMental 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 tellother members about the initial meeting and the prospect of creating theatre, brought outmany individuals from “the house” the following week. While people from the CowichanValley came out to explore the project, it was a group from Open Door that adopted theprocess of performative inquiry being offered as a way to make known their voice, storiesand lives.Over nine months of meetings, 20 psychiatric survivors experienced the theatreworkshops 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 hereall 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 insome of the workshops. Seven stayed through to the end. Six joined part way through andseven participated for three to thirteen sessions and never returned. Everyoneparticipating in the workshops is included in the list of participants. Of the thirteenpresenting in the performance, seven had come the full way through the project from thebeginning. The list, that follows, includes both co-searchers in this performative inquiryand cast members in the theatre production that followed:“Buster”(Keaton)Buster, in his late 30s, had been a client of the mental health system formany years. Prior to his entry into the system, Buster worked for Ontario72Hydro as a lineman. For many years, Buster was not diagnosed, orlabelled, with a particular disorder because he did not seek help. He knewsomething was not right, but left his situation undiagnosed. Eventually, hewas diagnosed with schizophrenia a decade ago. More recently, Busterwas diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He worked at odd jobs around thetown in an effort to remain off the disability system. Buster was one ofthe first people to join the group and stayed with the cast through to themain performance and the fringe festival in 2003.“Tallulah”(Bankhead)Tallulah, in her mid 30s, had been a mental health services client for manyyears. Prior to her entry into the system, Tallulah worked as an executiveassistant and was married to a successful and wealthy husband. In her mid20s, Tallulah was diagnosed, or labelled, with obsession compulsion,bipolar disorder and depression. Tallulah was one of the first people tojoin the group and stayed with the cast through the main performance andthe fringe festival performances in 2003“Amelia”(Earhart)Amelia, in her late 30s, had been a client of the mental health system formany years. Prior to her entry into the system Amelia worked in restaurantmanagement. Eventually Amelia was diagnosed, or labelled, withobsession compulsion, agoraphobia and depression. Amelia joined thegroup a month after it had started and continued on through to the mainperformance and the fringe festival performances in 2003.“Cary”(Grant)Cary, in his early 60s, and had been within the mental health system formany years. He has a dry wit and razor sharp observation of people andlife. Cary’s diagnosis, or labelling, of schizophrenia occurred during hisfirst year of university when he was studying for his B.Ed. Cary joined thegroup 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 earlysessions of games and exercises proved too much for her. She left after afew weeks.7/3“Bette”(Mid/er)Bette was in her early 40s and a stay-at-home mom raising 2 children (onechild was diagnosed with autism). Bette was a world-level competitiveathlete in her 20s. During her marriage and the raising of her family, Bettewas diagnosed, or labelled, with bipolar disorder. The effect of thisdiagnosis, or labelling, on her life included a divorce, raising her familyalone, and living on disability payments. Bette arrived later in the first partof the process and then was absent due to some major drug adjustmentsgoing on. Bette, however, did return just in time to participate in the mainperformance and the fringe festival performances in 2003. Bette, shortlyafter the project, was decreed, or labelled, healthy and normal. Since theproject she has worked at a university as an administrative assistant andspeaker 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 wassomeone identifring strongly with the 1960s era, particularly with themusic of the times. Joan used to work in administrative management andlived 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 andstayed through the process, including the main show and the fringe festivalin September 2003. For Joan, being a “slow cycler,” her depressiveperiods were quite long, so an issue was timing the show before or afterone of these low episodes. She was quite thrilled with the way thingsworked out.“Jimmi”(Hendrix)Jimmi, in his 30s, had been in the mental health system for many yearsand was diagnosed with schizophrenia and an addiction (brought aboutthrough the combination of alcohol and marijuana). Prior to appearing inthe play, Jimmi grew up in the U.S. Jimmi’s passion was his music. Hewrote and sang his own songs. The week before the performance Jimmicame to a rehearsal and asked if he could play his guitar during theperformance. He provided transitional music during the poultry barn andfringe festival performances. Jimmi’ s focus was to get his songs out to thepublic 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 thisexperience: I, as Sidney, wrote about the research. Just as I have74described the cast, I drew on responses from interviews with cast membersto have them describe their perception of me. You’re gay — I’m not — that ‘.sthe 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 theceiling with those kids.... You laugh a lot (Tallulah, Interview, 24)... Youreally needed to have a lot tighter control on things and we needed toknow what to lookfor.... (Katherine, Interview 10, p. 18). How do you getpeople to trust you so well— you definitely have talent (Amelia, Interview6, p.35). Social workers want to talk, they don’t want to listen —you listenSidney (Jimmi, May 14, 2005).“Glenda”(Jackson)Glenda was in her mid-30s and a student in mental health studies. Becauseshe was unemployed, she returned to school for upgrading. Glenda arrivedin our group in January for the play development process and wasinterested in theatre as a community and therapeutic intervention. Glendaperformed in the main performance and the fringe festival performances in2003.“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-describedfeminist in her beliefs and perspective. Jean was with the group from thebeginning. Jean played important roles in both the main performance andthe fringe festival performances in 2003, as well as our project work in2004-2005.“Joni”(Mitchell)Joni was an artist and educator in her 40s, with some training in populartheatre as envisioned by David Diamond of Headlines Theatre inVancouver. Joni was an immigrant from South Africa and lived withlimited financial means. Joni arrived in January, in time for the playdevelopment process leading up to the performance. Joni participated inthe main performance, but she did not participate in the fringe festivalperformance.“Katherine”(Hepburn)Katherine was my early 30s neighbour whose background was inbehavioural counselling. She was invited into the group as the embeddedcounsellor to assist with counselling and therapy issues coming up from75time to time during the work within the group. Katherine was the firstperson 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 andwas focussed on narrative (readers’ theatre) therapy and somaticcounselling. Lauren arrived in January in time for the play productionphase, participated with the technical aspects and acted during theperformance. Lauren stayed through the main stage and the fringe festivalperformances in 2003.“Ron”(Howard)Ron was in his 20s and from Victoria, BC. He had been diagnosed withschizophrenia and was looking to re-enter the workforce. Because ofdistance, season, transportation, and his re-entry into employment, Ronleft 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, andlabel, of bipolar disorder: he was similarly identified. Though this isunclear, John did mention he had been a user of crack-cocaine; a link mayexist between this substance use and the triggering of his mental healthissues. 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 earlysessions of games and exercises proved to be too much for Sally. She leftafter a few weeks. Sally was very politically aware and brought some veryinnovative ideas with her.“Shirley”(MacLame)Shirley arrived after Christmas and was part of the earlier playdevelopment process. She had emigrated from Toronto, Ontario and wasexperiencing culture shock since moving to rural Vancouver Island.Shirley was in her late 40s and diagnosed, and labelled, withschizophrenia at the age of 28. This was early in her marriage. Since beingdiagnosed, and labelled, she was abandoned by her family, including a76divorce from her husband. This changed recently. With her daughterasking Shirley to return home, she took up the invitation; however, thismeant the cast lost Shirley’s potential contributions.“Bea”(Arthur)Bea arrived mid way in the early portion of the process and stayed forabout 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 EmergedThe 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. Drawingon popular theatre exercises as my set of resources, while keeping in mind performativeinquiry’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 ofsingle 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 circle77Stages In The ProcessThe general moments the group passed through, in chronological order, were:• Group Formation— A local group of individuals invited me in to talkabout process and determine whether there was a “fit” with what thepotential co-searchers wanted to experience. Theatre games andexercises were used to foster cohesion and familiarity amongmembers. (3 months)• Exploring Theatrical Expression — An exploration of expressionthrough acting including voice, body movement, story, sounds, visualpictures, dance and use of space. Codifying or telling stories and“unpacking” narratives or decodifying performatively. (3 months)• Performance Development — Exploration of life experiencesdramatically with a focus on creating some sense of “production.” Theblending of theatre with remembered stories for some form ofretelling. (3 months)• Presentation— All aspects of moving a sense of whole into a showingfor an audience or witness the work. This period included rehearsals,constructing physical elements for the production, the performanceitself and whatever immediately followed. (2 weeks)• Post Production- This period followed for some time after the showwhen cast members were brought together to talk about theirexperiences, spectators were interviewed to gather their responses andI reflected on everything that had occurred in order to get a sense ofthe holistic quality of the performance. (3 months)• Social Action— Sometimes the cast and/or the audience determinedthat a collective response needed to occur. This reaction was based onthe experience of the popular theatre production. The aim was animprovement in the social, economic, political or life opportunities ofthe group. This included another experience of popular theatre, whichwas meant to be cyclical rather than a singular or once-onlyexperience. (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 ananticipated experience of additional theatre making. Shaken: NotDisturbed, with its linking between adults living with mental disorderdiagnoses was connected with youth at-risk behaviours, notably crystalmeth in local high schools, through the performance of CrystalDiagnosis. (2 months)78Entering the Liminality of Our WorkThe 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, andcomprehend 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 livingto our enclosed, ritualized and contained space. Sometimes this check-in was formallydone in a circle; other times it was done more casually, depending on moods andenergies. Following the more social period, the group focussed on yoga and dance.During these early sessions, the second episode involved theatre games and exercises toreconnect 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 takento 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 theatreincluded were added to what the group did for an additional II meetings.Closing Our Threshold WorldThrough the use of quiet instrumental music, nature sounds, a guided meditative processand 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 returnedto 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 bodiespressing 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, eachenvisioned the imprint of their body on the floor. Through a process of elimination, eachperson’s sketch was identified. Observations made about each person’s sketch wereinteresting. For some, pieces of bodies were “missing.” For others, shapes werereminiscent of the fetal position (a dependence) or of a silhouette of defiance. This wasdone several times with diverse responses. Cast members realized shapes reflected peoplein a particular session, rather than a consistent vision.Sources of UnderstandingInterpretations within this study were from:• Field notes taken throughout the process (audio taped, each lasting, onaverage, 30 minutes of reflection for a total of 17 hours of audiotape or200 pages of field notes).• Two sets of 45-minute interviews with regard to mental health clientsand one set of 30-minute interviews relating to the embeddedcounsellors (total taping time was 15 hours or 250 pages of memberinterviews)• Fifteen one-hour interviews with audience members (total taping timewas 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/reviewsdone with regard to the play, and letters and notes from participants.• Three video tapes of the two different performances: the first was ofthe 2-hour dress rehearsal carried out on May 10, 2004; the second80was the 2-hour recording of the main May 2003 performance; the thirdwas one of the 90-minute fringe presentations in September 2003.With all the information constructed and gathered, the reflecting and interpretingfor this writing emerged into the following process. The first stage of reflection camefrom cast members’ understanding of life within mental diversity. Through much of whatwas discussed, a show presenting the group’s performative inquiry was displayed forcommunity “reading.” As the production evolved, the view of scenes and acts (AppendixH) were conjured through the deciphering of understanding to deepen the symbolism andmeaning of experience.Thoughts From the FieldThe words, jointly constructed through conversation, interaction and performance wererecorded. Repetitively attending to each word of an interview and performance video cocreates a strong understanding of language and meaning. Repeatedly listening to andreading the text, co-created and performed in the field, is an opportunity to peel backlayers of awareness. Each block quote was numbered so I could refer back to it, ifneeded. As I engaged with the words, phrases, metaphors and stories of cast members, Iwrote various interpretive, process, and notes about meaning (Figure 10). A searchcontinued into understanding the experience of making popular theatre through reflectingupon “moments of recognition” in the story.Conceptual InterpretationThe last phase of my interpretation moved from the level of questions to the emergingrelationships around the connections of identity, voice, and personal power. Lastly,interconnections informing the guiding question (What shfls occur within a group of81rural adults living with mental disorder(s) as it developed andpresented an absurdistpopular theatre community production?) and purposes (to disrupt “normal” ways ofthinking 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)C0I____• IDENTITY• VOICE• PERSONALPOWERRESEARCHQUESTIONLabels &MemosFigure 10: Analysis process of textual dataCast ReflectionsA key source of “analysis,” or reflective interpretation, was the cast members. Throughtelling their stories, performative inquiring within theatre created opportunities forembodied interstanding of narratives. Most notable was the relationship of psychiatricsurvivors within the mental mainstream. By interpreting responses of others around them,considered as “normal,” the group became aware of parts of themselves previouslyhidden. 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 disorderscreated an album of clearly focussed vignettes of life.Audience ReflectionsBetween two and twelve weeks following the main show, a series of 15 sixty-minuteinterviews (one on one and focus groups) were carried out. Interviews were semi-structured with much of the conversation remaining open for audience members as theyreflected 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 InterpretationOnce the notes and ideas were made and gathered together, finding a large surface towork on was critical. Living in a large, old house our upstairs hallway ran for twenty feetand was nine feet high. Surely 180 square feet was enough! I transferred all thereflections, ideas, and thoughts (numbering 347) to index cards and taped them up on thewall’s expanse in a chaotic and random way. I used time to let those pieces of insight toliterally sift into some sense of whole. Occasionally, a reflection changed as it resonatedwith similar ideas on the wall. When I made amendments, I went back to the originalinterview or performance to pull the quote from where the original notion emerged. Inthis way, words from the field were gradually “pulled through” my interpretations andreflections into this writing.Facilitator ReflectionsTime played a central role in making sense of bits of concepts scribbled on paper. Duringthis 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 wallbefore 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 ofthemes were made so they appeared under more than one label; sometimes all threereceived the same card. At times, papers shifted back and forth several times amongreflections because of ambiguity. This uncertainty continued even as later processesbegan.After each week’s session, I used a Dictaphone to record immediate thoughts,impressions and process ideas for future meetings. Once orally noted, these weretranscribed to deepen my reflections. Included were emotional moments, tensions,doubts, successes and connections, which led profound theoretical reflecting. Initialreflections involved notions of identity, voice and power within the conceptualframework of critical disability theory and psychiatric impairments. From thesereflections, my writing began to make further connections resulting in this report.Emerging PossibilitiesOnce 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 asscary like those portrayed on TV, and not capable, creative, able to contribute to thetown, and as having skills? When one considers the suggestions the cast made for societyto help them live better (Table 7), it is clear, more listening to their stories and adviceneeds to occur. The same exercise was carried out within power and voice. Questionsemerged to deepen the interstanding of mental diversity by the co-searchers, audience84and me. Once queries were found, each grouping was interpreted. It was to these newreflections my attention shifted. I was curious about how these questions related to oneanother and to the overarching direction. What were the relationships supporting voice,power, and identity? How did fear and new awareness of capabilities support or negateself-concept?SummaryThis chapter lays out steps taken within this study over a one-year period. My purposeswere to disrupt “normal” ways of thinking about psychiatric diversity by challengingprevailing notions of mental “illness” and create better relationships betweenpsychiatrically diagnosed and other people. To achieve these aims, I had to focus onbonding with the local community before any research could take place. Each stagewithin the process was described, as were divisions within weekly meetings. Sources of“data” construction were highlighted and the reflections that drew on these interstandingsdescribed. The importance of cast, audience and personal reflections drew this chapter toa 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. Thesemoments ofrecognition supported the popular performance involving psychiatricsurvivors’ life experiences and reflective “reading” of the mainstream.85CHAPTER FOURCHAOTIC COMPLEXITY:CO-SEARCHING IN THE CROSSROADS“... then all ofa sudden people came and they sat around the garden and then wewere standing by what we hadplanted and then there was a show and it was likenobody realized it until the end and we were like how ‘d that happen? “(TaIIuIah,Interview 6, p. 4).IntroductionThe previous chapter discussed procedures used within this performative inquiry. In thischapter, the focus is a reflective composition of what we, as a group, did and howdynamics of relationship and learning co-evolved as members explored histories andexperiences among cast members. Associations of meaning and processes for makingsense of what occurred are also covered. The first part of the chapter reviews the cast’sdevelopment and the co-researching it conducted. The gradual evolution that emanatedfrom the weekly inquiries led to the group’s uniquely heightened understanding of theworld. As within an enactivist mode, the environment of the group affected theemergence 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 theperspective of the co-searchers, Chapter 6 offers views from audience members andChapter 7 are my reflections. Like any process where individuals previously unknown toone another come together, the evolution was not easy, smooth, or predictable. Thisprocess was tentative, open, flexible and, yet, bounded within a particular context.86Emergent Chaos as Home PlaceI arrived in this project with my own biases about mental “illness.” Through theeducation I received, working with the group, my awareness grew as to how much of myown understanding drew from the pervasive influence of media characterizations ofindividuals with psychiatric diagnoses. In those early days of working together, I subtlylearned to change my demeanour from speaking softly, being over-cautious with my useof language and standing just a little farther away, to being up front and open with myown experience and what I did not know. As group members shared their experiences ofeveryday 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 whatsociety, generally, did when faced with someone labelled as mentally “ill.”I’ve been in Duncan for a long time, and I lived with General Deliveryforten years. At the post office- the post office in town. A lot ofpeople withmental illness get their mail there. There was general delivery. ... Therewas . . .people who... some people who find them scary. Some people likeCary. . .find people . . .find him scary looking ‘cause he ‘s very tall and bigand he ‘s got wild hair and at first he had the wild beard. But you see Ihave known Cary for twenty-five years or more. So it ‘s easier. Like I saidsome 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. Memberslive with impairments. More profound is society’s handicapping attitudes because itforecloses a person’s identity and opportunity. Within those first few meetings, much wasopen to negotiation. Jean, a social worker accompanying many in the cast, pulled measide at the end of the first evening to ask if I could change the rehearsal structure. Frommy notes, I gleaned the following points:87Thefour hour blockstoo long.We need to shorten them to two hours.Oh.... and twice a weektoo many.Let’s aim for once a week...While energy levels for most people dissipate later in the day, many living withpsychiatric disorders experience a more pronounced drop in stamina. Four hours was along 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 thegroup to engage in physical activity. However, Jean suggested sessions be cut to twohours and once a week. As the group became more accustomed to the activity, the timewas extended to three hours or more, but months later.Another issue raised, by Jean, was the necessity to find another space for ourmeetings. Within the community centre (our first meeting location), the rehearsal hailwas also the “green room” for incoming professional arts companies, which requiredconstant shuffling of the group to other rooms in the building whenever a road tour wasin town. Adding to the initial chaos, the group shifted the days it met in a given weekbecause of scheduling conflicts. While it was not the best situation, confusion wasreduced with a printed schedule. Changes to routines were not handled well byindividual group members. Inconsistency had to be minimizedOh.... and switching rooms and some days too complicated.The group needs consistency predictability.88Let’s move to another spaceAnd so a new meeting place was found, which allowed us to establish a setschedule. By moving to a new location, relational power was transformed because allmembers 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 thedevelopment 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 oflearning to work together, collaboratively, was found through the group holding hands asone; all leading and being led by one another, no individual in complete control of theprocess. The research project quickly stopped being my venture; it became our collectiveexperience and our ritual. Yet, one other major obstacle existed, which I had notpreviously anticipated. Prejudice does reside within all individuals, including a groupsuch 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 ....thevoices kept calling me queer... and for some reason ... call me queer,faggot and stuff Andfor some reason ... it was the most hurtful thing thatthey could say to me. And ... and... and it ... and it would hammer at meday 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 ‘thave to use that exact example but . . .you know .. .you know ... when youget that negative voice in your head ... you know it can really ... reallyget to you ... you know. Like it was . . .for some reason ... it was the worstthing that ... that someone could call me. It still irritates me you knowwhen somebody calls me that today. Like it’s ... I don ‘t know why I ... butthat ‘s the button that I got. The worst thing that you could call me.... likeI’ve got nothing against any... you know... whether you’re ... straight orgay or whatever but for some reason it pisses me off... when people callme that ...so ...you know and ... I wasn’t taking medication for years andand this woman ‘s voice kept calling me gay or queer or whatever youknow. And ... for some reason it was the worst thing that this ... voice inmy head could call me. And therefore you know ... so you know . . .you89could use whatever you want to you know.. .just I guess everybody’s got asoft 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 worstinsult someone could throw at him: faggot. He readily stated he was homophobic. Whensomeone 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 homophobiawould negatively affect the group, or in his relationship with me. However, having othersin 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 oursimilarities as well as our differences.Ordered Chaos: Where The Study ResidesPopular theatre and performative inquiry begins with the body-context. The physicality ofmarginality was where our work began: in the murkiness of biographies, expectations,comforts and risk. The first eleven meetings of our exploring, were spent becomingacquainted with a room full of strangers: to transform our assembly of individuals into acollective. Our physical, interacting, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and psychologicalbeings 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, thestructure evolved through a ritual being called forth each time the group came together.Early in the process, the power of physical communication and meaning makingbecame evident. An early exercise was the Boalian “Hypnosis” activity, whereby one90person held up a hand in front of the face of her/his partner. The person staring at thehand became “hypnotized.” This person followed wherever the hand “led.” The“hypnotizer” was effectively in “control” of another. A variation of this activity waswhen one person was “hypnotizing” two people simultaneously by having eachparticipant use both hands to guide the faces of two people. Everyone took turns leadingand 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 experiencewas the first of several exercises evolving into production elements because of itsrelevance to members.The Vessel Holding Our ExplorationsThe process that unfolded was elusive. It is impossible to point to any particular activityor series of drama exercises and say this is what created interstanding. Naming our sharedperformative experience was not as important as “feeling” that something was occurring.Our inquiries into physical expression “contained” our weekly play-full and creativeefforts. Tallulah described the group’s evolution like planting a garden.it was as fnobody knew that you were planting... like a garden right. Likeit was as if... it seemed to me ... I don ‘t know about everybody else but itwas like .. .you know you were like... you were like ... okay everybodycome and run on the mud and then it was like you know you ‘d . . .you ‘d belike here ...andyou would put seeds in our pockets... like the socks in ourpockets for playing tag ... that’s what it was like. And so the seeds werethere ... and then all ofa sudden... you know ... the sun would come andthe rain would come and the sun would come and the rain would comeand that would be the therapy. When we were talking about our good daysand our bad days ... and we didn ‘t realize that all ofthis ... you know91everything was growing in the garden. And then all of a sudden peoplecame and they sat around the garden and then we were standing by whatwe hadplanted and then there was a show and it was like nobody realizedit 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 the flourin the cake mix you know we were all a bunch of little eggs and milkand all those other kinds of things but you were the solidfying agent ... inall of that ... you helped ... so like ... okay you know we were drippingover the edges ... you would bring us back into the bowl and mix ustogether 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 andexercises that I introduced to the group involved playing with rhythm, blind games, trustexercises, 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 ofKnots, Person-to-Person, Sticky Paper and so on. The intent was to keep the atmospherealive and fun with games, both physical and sensory, while working from the individualtoward group work. Also, during the second and third stages when the group wasexploring theatrical expression and developing a performance these exercises reappeared.The middle hour of our weekly time together allowed for this burst of energy andanimation 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, gamesshifted to include practicing using emotions, interacting within imagined situations, danceand movement, telling stories, voice, and working with bodies to create meaning. Someearly discoveries within this work included the realization by participants that emotionscan be controlled.92The Emotional WalkDuring this exercise, (Figure 11) members wrote words containing labelled emotions onlarge sheets of paper and scattered these on the floor. The object of the exercise was towork in pairs, carry on a conversation and work through a variety of emotions as thetwosome spoke about favourite movies, food and so on. Each pair suggested a topic ofconversation and walked around the room chatting. As they stepped on or over a sheet ofpaper with a particular emotion, the conversational tone shifted to reflect the feeling.igure 11: Emotional walkThe first phase the couple walked slowly around the room, shifting theiremotions. 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 thatemotions controlled me and that’s why I always feel out ofcontrol... now Icanjust tell myselfwhat I want to feel (Amelia, Interview 20, p. 7)She believed emotions were out of her control; they managed her actions. ForAmelia, this became a significant shift in her understanding of herself. To find she couldturn 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. Youwrite down . . .you know... happy, sad, or whatever ... love ... . and learninghow to portray it. And then seeing which ones you can really do. For me itwas which ones I could do convincingly and then learning something93about myself.. .you know ... I think there ‘s a lot ofanger around ... havingto have this illness for me. Yeah ... dealing with it ... and ... then I thoughtoh gosh I can .. .1 can either do like the really angry people ... and the..really happy . . .you know ... but the in-between emotions .. .1found reallyhard to portray . . .you know. Like ..I don ‘t know how other people do itbut 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 werenot solely embodied in one person or another, but arose from within interactions amongmembers. Nor were emotions the result of one person. Two or more people engagedtogether were responsible for one another’s moods. Both Amelia and Joan created deeperawareness around this leading up to the popular performance.BodyguardsAnother exercise involved a group of five. One person stood with four others; one oneither side of the first person, one behind and another in front, all looking in the samedirection. 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. Tallulahfound 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 Shakendepicting the automaton-like nature of employed society.We ‘ye got to do this in the show— I love doing the bodyguards— it reallyis connected to movement and how worlds get constructed throughmovement and how bodies get positioned to serve particular needs —Tallulah and I can work on a movement piece (Jean, infield notes, page45)94Have You Seen My FriendThe game Have You Seen My Friend was played many times and was Fruit bowl with thename altered. The idea and action of searching for allies and friendships struck a chordfor everyone in the group. A turn was carried out through a person walking around thecircle 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 theindividual 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 looklike?” 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 thecircumference of the circle and get back to a spot before other people running the circletook all available places. The suspense-filled cue of “Have you seen my friend?” coupledwith screaming, laughing and joy was not lost on any member of the group. We wereamong friends: we could stop looking. This was the humbling power of workingcollectively.BombardmentThis exercise explored relationships captured in phrases combined with physicality. Aperson selected a role or person to name. Group members thought of possible people in afictionalized person’s life and developed a phrase likely to be spoken within a particularrelationship. Lastly, a physical shape or posture to reflect the inner personality of eachrelationship was portrayed through a frozen image. The central person to all therelationships 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 returned95to the outer edge of the circle. This allowed each person to try out a role briefly andreturn to him-/herself. Gradually, and with increasing intensity the “cast” went in twosand then threes to speak their phrases and hold their positions before returning to theouter circle. Eventually, the entire group was huddled around the central person, andbombarded the person with various phrases and postures all at once. Each personreceived an opportunity to try it out, not everyone did. Contrary to other exercisescreating a sense of power fullness, this exercise created the opposite. Often the centreperson put him-/herself in a position of subservience and powerlessness.The exercise was a depiction of their collective erasure within society. They werespoken to or about, rather than with. This feeling, coupled with the bombardmentexercise, was an incarnation of the reality of schizophrenia for those living with a labeland disorder. Rather than leave the exercise in what could have been a negativeexperience, I asked if there was something instructive in this, to turn into a moment ofperformative excavation educating an audience. Immediately the response was“yes.. .turn the audience into a type of schizophrenic brain.. .turn the exercise outwardtoward the spectators.” So began an early element within the performance; what wouldultimately turn into the opening act: “Freak Show” (Appendix H). Quickly, the grouprealized 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 themaking of the performance, “I don ‘t like that, let’s try this. “No notion existed for whatwas sought, so there was no idea what the result was. The search had to be co-created andcarried out collectively. This meant all had an opportunity to contribute. Everyone’s96offering 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 muchas possible, opportunity existed to veto if the group did not agree. Dissent wasencouraged. Through working together, the question evolved to, “What is THE GROUPlookingfor?”The emotional exercise was typical of this, as were voice projection exercises andour practice in breathing and use of vocal resonators. The separation of our voice workfrom physicality was important so speaking did not mask or reduce the powerful effectsof bodies. With regard to physicality, members began their work with sculpting, initiallythrough mirror exercises earlier on.Complete The ImageFrom general mirror exercises participants moved to an exercise called Complete theImage. This process is a series of frozen sculptures, whereby one person stands in thecentre of a circle in a frozen shape or posture. A second participant steps in and adds tothe first person, “completing” the image. The first person drops away and a third personenters, adding to the remaining person and so on. Nothing was labelled. Everything wassimply responded to. When striking something occurred in the shifting images, the personwho noticed was encouraged to speak about it or describe it. What thoughts and emotionshad the sculpture conjured?A key moment occurred during our Halloween meeting when fewer than usualpeople participated. We were playing with Complete The Image (Figure 12) ideas andthe shift moved from a heavily religious moment with a priest in a communal pose to adevil 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-momentthat had united all profoundly.IFiure 12: Completing the imageFrom general exercises group members moved into thematically completing theimage, as was the case with Amelia’s poem, The Soul ofan Artist, in which she comparedsuicide to a blizzard. To finish the story of these sculptures, the poem Amelia had formedthrough words cut from magazines, Soul ofan Artist.. . .being likened to a blizzard thewhole episode was tied to the theme of her past attempted suicide. The people pulling andhelping 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 themeaning and impulse behind Amelia’s writing: her suicide attempts.I was so enthralled with suicide... I mean it was like a fantasy to mesuicide was a fantasy and I was going through all the magazines causethey’ve got tons ofmagazines out there and I was cutting out words and sowhen I cut the words out ... then I kept moving them around and until Ifinally got it to how I wanted it ... and glued it on a piece of black paperand ... but and... and I but I was so surprised that nobody knew what itwas ... they ‘d read it and go that ‘s nice ... you know and or that’s poeticbut nobody knew and that ‘s kind ofsort ofhow it is with suicide ... nobodyknows the kind of pain and then when you ‘re told ... then it’swhoa...(Amelia 1, p. 13)98The first stages of physical work incorporated static symbols, using these tocapture meaning, information, and interstanding. The latter part of performative learningshifted from static imagery into interactive performance. Through these interactions, thisperformative 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 (seethe previous chapter).Making Sense Of Where Lives (in Rehearsal) TraversedBridging between the earlier phases and acquiring tools for a popular performanceinvolved an exercise incorporating language, physical movement and spontaneity. TheDelphi, involved reaching consensus through movement and negotiation in silence. Insimple form, the Delphi process is described in Table 4.During our two-week break for the holidays, the group shrank: one member wastravelling 50 km from Victoria, but winter driving proved difficult over the mountainbetween the city and the group meetings in Duncan; another member experienced amedication shift and turned to self-medication; and another found the two-hour sessions,once a week, fatiguing. The group’s number needed replenishing. Advertisementsappeared in local newspapers. Several people joined as the cast began to engage withtheatre making. While recent joiners did not have a history of working together, most hadknown some of the group or knew of the process. Connections aiding in integrating newmembers were made. Also, supporting these new people was the warm, generous andsupportive nature of the group. An openness and recognition others benefited by being inthis 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 theoriginal members reconnect after some time away from the group.Table 4Delphi Technique Procedure1. Have each person write one word/phrase, one per index card, up to about 10to 15 per person - related to the broad topic being investigated. For ourgroup, the topic was mental disorder.2. Collect and shuffle all the cards3. Randomly display the cards on a wall or floor4. Have the group read all the card ideas without talking5. Have the group slowly begin to cluster similar ideas together without talking6. Once the large grouping is clustered have the group go through one moretime and shift cards around if they see any needing to be moved, again notalking7. Once the clusters have been finalized, have the group connect the cardbatches together so the first one is the least important and the last bunch isthe most, without talkingOnce steps 1-7 are complete, then open the group for dialogue anddiscussion. What usually transpired remained even after people had a chanceto speak. The most important cluster became the topic or overarching ideafrom 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 feltlost. The space was too big. To limit the space, members decided to “corral” one cornerwith six gym benches where people could sit facing each other, while exploring topicswithin the cordoned space. Through January and February 2003 (eight sessions), the cast100THE I)ELPHI TECHNIQUEidentified topics they wanted to explore for possible inclusion in the popularperformance. All discussions during this time were put on a flipchart. Occasionally, oneor more members worked through scenes in the space. The more intense improvisationflowed from the group openly talking. The co-searchers uncovered the pervasive use ofrituals in their lives:• Families construct rituals ofexclusion promoting mental diversity as a “burden” andsource of embarrassment to friends and neighbours.• Diagnosing as episodic identity rituals ofpassage spanning years whereby anindividual goes through shifting and multiple categorizations labelling, without everknowing what condition one’s body contains.• Prescribing drugs as rituals ofexperimentation involving tinkering with prescriptionsand exchanging psychotropic drugs in the hopes something “takes.” A survivor’sbody “tells” the psychiatrist when things are “correct.”• Calming “normal” people in social situations through a ritual ofsafety involvingprotecting “sane” people from their fears involving individuals with mental labelsbeing dangerous and threatening.One evening, with a new person’s arrival, co-searchers were engaged in a roundof mental health-related topics. A new person just beginning working with the groupdeclared she didn’t feel “sick.” Other people labelled her in ways with which she did notidentify. Why was her perspective “wrong”? She expressed pride in being “different” toothers. For her, this was normal.This began a discussion about “mental pride.” Why is this never allowed? Whymust it be illness or tragedy?With all this talk of mental illness. I disagree. All I hear is mental illnessthat needs curing. But I don ‘tfeel sick! Why can ‘t we be proudfor beingdifferent. Not less important. I don ‘t evenfeel sick. (Sally, 2003)If gays and lesbians can create power with the word, “Queer,” then they are ablethrough a word used to punish them, regain a sense of power through language. This101resulted in the discussion of the word “mental.” They were proud too. Many great artistsand 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 celebrationAll 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 theysaw in the media. The twist was the title: “Mental Seeking Mental” (Appendix G). Fromthis black humour exercise arose a series of related topics members experienced or hadheard about:• Psychiatric survivors are constructed as “non-sexual” people.• Women with a psychiatric diagnosis are told to not have children, raising thehistory 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 psychiatricdiagnosis and another without, is perceived by “normals” to be full of potentialviolence 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 butcould not stay. Shortly after she had been diagnosed with a mental disorder, her familydisowned 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 asshe 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 tothe others and I wish them well. If I had money I would gladly give it toyou to keep going on. Because you have to keep going on. You don ‘t knowhow valuable what you ‘re doing is for the group, do you? Whatever youdo.. .just keep going. After all these years, my daughter needs me. I have totake 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 fyouwant help... (Sally, field notes, p. 67)We talked more about the group’s plans as well as her future and joy with regardto reuniting with her family. I was happy for Sally, but sad for not having her in ourgroup. She was the one that gave a most important present to the group; the gift ofprodding, thinking about individual and group pride and enactively shifting the way thegroup looked at itself and its relation to society. It is fitting to end this part of our journeywith her words:What is all this talk about illness? I don ‘tfeel ill. Why do we haveto be ill? Why does everyone treat me as though everything aboutme is sick? Mental illness is a source ofsupport and is a positivesupport ofpride. I’m proud to be dfferent in one way — but I’m thesame in far more ways. Why can ‘t people notice me — see me forwho Jam... we are? (Sally, field notes, p. 58)The Poultry BarnDynamics 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 insidewere all whitewashed. Both ends of the barn had large twin doors that ranon a track completely opening the barn outward into the fairgrounds. Therewere power outlets evenly spaced along both sides of the wall. A smallpower room was in one corner with a potential performance area on theroofofthat space. We had one half lengthwise, ofthe barn. The second halfwas normally locked, though we would end up using the locked halfas ourstorage space for props, costumes, lights, and set pieces. There was nowashroom facility — that was had by walking several hundred yards away toa concrete washroom facility that was locked — out in the middle of theparking lot - there were also some stacked wire poultry cages beside thebarn ...perhaps we could hang signs reading “Solitary Confinement” for thewaiting audience ...(Field notes, p. 43)The building housed prize-winning poultry during the annual fall fair in Duncan. Likemost barns, the floor was made of poured concrete. The walls were heavily whitewashedboards. Numerous electrical plugs were found and the open-raftered ceiling held lots oflights. The cast bought a number of halogen work lights as the stage lights for the popularperformance. The barn was split into two with sliding doors opening up both sides. Weperformed in one side, while using the other as a big storage for props and costumes andas a change room during the show. We moved to this location in early April, whenevening temperatures would fall to 50 degrees Celsius. We dressed warmly andcontinued in the “blank canvas” of space (Figure 13).Figure 13: The cast setting up in the barnWhile the building worked well for a location, it was less conducive to lying orsitting still on, particularly during the first month when the cast began rehearsals. The104barn was not heated and our meetings occurred during the evenings. If members keptmoving, most people endured the cold. Poured concrete, constituting the floor, emanatedcoldness. To lie on this and meditate was impossible. As a result, our closure process wasamended. 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 onerehearsal to the next through discussions of what occurred in a current evening and whatneeded to be done. It paled in comparison to our previous closing process when we metin 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 timetogether reinforced the power and necessity of this dynamic when constructing a ritual oflearning and insight (Figure 14). The play was recorded twice. A fringe festival recordingis attached to the back cover of this document.Figure 14: “Feeling” the barn spaceReflections, Interpretations, PossibilitiesThe research methodology of this study involved performative inquiry. Table 5summarizes the themes and performative questions the group explored that assisted withdeveloping and putting on the performance. Within the group’s meetings, various queriesemerged that the group wanted to explore more fully. From these experiences, dramatic105Table 5Cast’s Results of Their Performative Inquiry as Illustrated in the Show “SHAKEN: NOTDISTURBED... with a twist!”SHOW’S SCENE TITLE DESCRIPTION OF CAST’S RATIONALE FORTHE SCENE INCLUSIONFreak 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 historychairs (and from where attitudes come).How far has society come?Theme: Role of HistoryFantasy of Dreams Blue Light, darkened room, Kate Attached to some of thoseBush song “Under Ice”... Working in contemplating suicide is the ideaPairs— Mime tensions and being of fantasy — being disconnectedtrapped. and of being a burden to others.Why does a feeling of burdenexist? Is leaving the solution or abigger problem? Theme:SuicideTravelogue Through History A monologue by character in a lab Who is mad? Is it possible tocoat about the entwined history of serve two masters: curing illness,mental “illness” and psychiatry. becoming legitimate andFeatured are the series of “attempts” powerful?at curing madness. Ends with speakerbeing sunmioned for his medication. Theme: Construction of PowerDiagnosis Dance A music number set up as ajig How is illness constructed?danced by doctors in lab coats. Song Do doctors understand asused is “Jig of Life” whereby doctors medical labels are assigned, sobegin austere and solemn and then are identities? Why is diagnosiswhen the jig begins dances out to so inexact? Is diagnosis theaudience and makes diagnoses and lifeblood of the medicalprescriptions in a flurry of merriment. profession? Theme: LabellingHow “They” Talk About “Us” Precursor to the “Buster” series of Why do people speak at othersscenes — takes audience through the perceived as different as thoughmajor challenge of finding they’re not human? What is theemployment. Monologue in the form fear? Theme: Employmentof Job Interview.Looking For Work Inside an El office and how Buster Why do those meant to help,gets either laughed at or ignored, hurt people so much? Theme:EmploymentEl Appeal Panel Ritual of an Inquisition to root out What are the forms of normal?Others.., the perpetuation of The use of power to controlNormalcy— again labeling as being normalcylazy or not committed or not prudent.Theme: Employment106SHOW’S SCENE TITLE DESCRIPTION OF CAST’S RATIONALETHE.SCENE FOR INCLUSIONFaking It Forced back to work, Buster fmds How can we believe in diversityanother job where he has to “pass” as when we don’t allow mentally“normal” or fake it.... But as the pace diverse people be themselves?of work quickens Buster can’t keepup. This is done as a movement pieceshowing the automaton nature of the Theme: Employmentemployment.Filling The Gap Ending of the movement piece when How disposable are we asBuster runs in frustration off stage humans?leaving a hole. This position isreplaced by another knowing how to Theme: Employmentwatch the others— but is he passing?New Job/New Stress Buster is given more and moreresponsibility until he “bums out” Why do those seen as “different”and collapses — in part because the are expected to do more to beemployer knows he has been accepted?diagnosed with a mental disorder.Theme: EmploymentUnemployment “Fairy Drug Mother” comes along to What is worse— the treatment byoffer drugs to cope. New drugs bring “normal others” or the drugs?“normalcy”Theme: EmploymentThe Ritual Repeats A shortened repeat of the previous How much does larger societyritual in a piece of forum theatre — understand the issues connectedquestions are asked of the audience to mental diversity? Can theyfor suggestions. help? Will they help?Theme: EmploymentA Family Gathering An evening of playing scrabble.... Why do loved ones not trust?Parents, son and girlfriend with a How can love be destructive?psychiatric diagnosis.... All the fears How is dependencyand stereotypes of parents toward materialized?“what others will think” and spoilingthe family genes.... And the overcare/smothering of careTheme: Family RelationshipsA Doctor’s Concern An Alter Ego exercise whereby egos How can an ethic of care bespeak to the audience as a doctor and present in the midst of thepatient discuss medications. The financial ties to big drugdoctor alter ego wishes to please the companies? How is expressiondrug companies, but to the patient it of oppression experienced whenis an ethic of caring. this happens? Will psychiatristsaccept this portrayal?Theme: Doctor Relationships107SHOW’S SCENE TITLE DESCRIPTION OF CAST’S RATIONALETHE SCENE FOR INCLUSIONLate Night Phone Call A monologue done in the fashion of a Why is sexuality, identity andlate night radio talk sex help line mental identity not considered asshow.... A slide shows a romance ad co-existing? Why are sexualentitled “Mental Seeking Mental”.... lives of psychiatric survivorsAnd a shadow box of action occurs erased? What is the fear? Howdemonstrating the letter being read can this get talked about?out to the audience.Theme: Intimate RelationshipsDouble Ceremony of Normalcy Two ceremonies in one: when a What is normal? Why can’t aperson becomes labeled as different, a broader range of normal exist?new identity of difference replaces a Why can’t having a psychiatrictaken for granted self of normalcy— diagnosis be another form ofthe ritual demonstrates this. accepted normal?Theme: NormalcyGallery of Behaviours A bus tour (audience) of personnel How much does context play inprofessionals arrives to take in office labeling? What is acceptedbehaviours— but are they mental behaviour and why? Does whohealth workers— the signs individuals labels matter? Where is the limitwear are flipped so the same between normal and not normalbehaviour becomes labeled and how is this determined?differently— from accepted (work) tounaccepted (diagnosis)... le.Attention to Detail becomesCompulsive ObsessiveTheme: NormalcyHoops For Money A scene showing a survivor trying to Acceptance of a label is limitednavigate various hoops to receive depending on current politics.subsistence disability payments —to How can survivors have greaterbe ultimately pushed out by a influence in this?Disability Review.Theme: Politics of IdentityA Day at the Grocery Store A scene showing a clerk lucky What people have the largerenough to work for the below dependency on society forminimum wage training pay as money? Psychiatric survivors orvarious customers are checked out: the various mental health anddoctor, lawyer, social worker, social work professionals? Howpsychiatrist —the people spending is this dependency constructed?large amounts of money on groceriespaid for by the state.Theme: State Dependency108SHOW’S SCENE TITLE DESCRIPTION OF CAST’S RATIONALETHE SCENE FOR INCLUSIONGovernment Office of Silly A quick scene built on the Silly Who owns the language matters.Answers Questions exercise involving serious Appearances matter. Why doesquestions but silly and evasive this perpetuate? In what waysanswers provided by government does this harm psychiatricbureaucrats survivors?Theme: Language of PowerBC’s New Era Political Satire with Premier How can the short-term focus ofCampbell dressed as a used car political office be changed to asalesman selling off the province to longer term of helping society?the harm of those needing help What is government’s role? Whyhas government turned into abusiness?Theme: GovernmentBlind Leading the Blind Scene of a deaf mental patient being Why is the mental disorder labellabeled as non-compliant when much larger than other aspects ofpsychiatrist did not bother to identity? Why do psychiatristsunderstand patient— another patient become disconnected fromclears up the problem but is told to patients? Why can’t patients andmind her own business, doctors work together?Theme: Doctor CareOffice Overload Scene of over-stressed social worker Why has social caring becomeeventually burning out from a variety less? Who will pick up theof demands to be replaced by a recent overflow? What will happengraduate full of idealism, because of this lack of statecare? Where is help comingfrom if not the state?Theme: Social Care CutsBedtime Story Scene whereby a tired psychiatric Why does so muchnurse falls asleep as a patient plans discoimection exist betweenout loud how she will commit patients and medical staff?suicide. Nurse wakes up to believethe “problem” has been solved. Theme: ProfessionalDisconnectionFamily Tug-Of-War A Red Rover game turned into the How can the experience ofpros and cons of loved ones finding psychiatric survivors get out toout someone has become recently educate society about what isdiagnosed— ends with bombardment needed? How can an individualexercise become so isolated at a time theyneed others.Theme: Family Disconnection109SHOW’S SCENE TITLE DESCRIPTION OF CAST’S RATIONALETHE SCENE FOR INCLUSIONPep Rally of Pride A chant about mental pride is yelled Theme: Emerging Mentalout to the audience PrideFinding A Way Out Play Ends With a Series of Tableaux What can we tell the audienceand cast members shouting out what we need in order to improve ourthey need to live with pride, while lives? What if the list we providebeing a valued, productive citizen could all come tme what arethe possibilities? Theme:Developing A FutureDebrief Discussion between cast and audience What will true dialogue lookabout the show, the topic, or process. like? What can be achieved bytalking together? Theme: MoveArt and Life Closer Together.Celebration Food, drink, laughter, talking— mix Can art be moved into life? Canbetween cast and audience. we make things happen?Theme: Social Actionmoments and scenes emerged, which the group felt illustrated new awareness orinterstanding. Themes that were performed illustrated relied-upon techniques of popularadult education and absurdist performance styles. Popular theatre methods draw uponlived experiences in the creation of everyday situations in order to reformulate them intonew codified (absurdist) and dramatic opportunities. The scene titles emerged as the“themes” or “codes” the group identified them and were instances of “naming theirworld” in relevant ways. Popular theatre techniques and performative inquiry as researchmethodology created this awareness in more intentional ways through the use of dramaticand theatrical processes.Key “aha” moments emerged from early on, through to the performance. Table 6illustrates the impulse for each conjuring of insight during the group’s explorations andthe awareness raised. Some of these exercises were transformed and incorporated into theperformance as in the cases of Bombardment, Forum Theatre, Alter Egos, Body Guards,Rite of Passage, Silly Questions and Red Rover.110Table 6A Listing of Aha Moments and the Exercises That Evoked ThemKEY “ABA” MOMENTS EXERCISE FROM WHERE..INSIGS EMERGEDThe notion of having multiple voices withcontradictory demands resonated for some inthe cast. The impulse was to turn what occurs Bombardmentwithin one body outward to the audience toincrease awareness relating to experience of“mental disorder.”Suffering transforms bodies into vulnerableand closed positions fighting for a breath ofrecognition and viability: a sense of Complete the Imageentrapment.Emotions don’t automatically “control”people, but by being consciously aware therecan be some control of emotions. Emotional WalkHow various forms of power influence andoppress the fortunes of others, particularlythose who are seen as “not belonging.” Also Forum Theatrethe ritualistic quality of authority that oftenallows it to work invisibly.Regimentation of society — especially thework world. How the need to conform can bemore “maddening” than the desire to be Body Guardsindividual.Individuals “wear” masks.., or they are notwho they appear. There are hiddenmotivations and interests that control Alter Egosinteractions.Labelling involves both the taking on of newperceptions and the destruction of old ones.When named “not normal,” there is a passingof status or the taking on of “outsider”—and Rite of Passagethe taking away of something known,familiar and comfortable on the inside. Thisrelated to each disorder label being attachedto a particular notion of identity.111KEY “ABA” MOMENTS EXERCISE FROM WHERE• INSIGHTS EMERGEDIndividuals don’t always say what they mean Silly Questionsor hide their true message to protectthemselves or exclude others from knowing.The confusion of intentions of those around Red Roverus. Some individuals mean well but don’thave our interests at heart and others justdon’t know but don’t realize this.A document, with regard to care giving and wishes for society, emerged during asession where we were all just sitting around one evening and talking about “What If?”If society could reduce its prejudice of psychiatric survivors and allow greater inclusionso citizenship was a reality, what would that look like? How can co-searchers find greaterindependence? What can be done? We started small in constructing a wish list by lookingat the care giving relationship and some of the assumptions that support it. Not all ofthese dynamics are healthy or positive for psychiatric survivors. Others foster greatsupport.Table 7 reflects a central piece within the cast’s message: assisting psychiatricsurvivors through care giving, supporting and creating opportunities for greaterindependence at a social level. This was provided as a handout within the show’sprogram to all audience members.From the microcosm of mentally diagnosed individuals, and their loved ones, thediscussion moved to the larger community. As the list evolved, there was a realizationthat what would help this group, and others with disabilities, would help many who arealso socially and economically marginalized. The list of social assistance suggestions has112TABLE 7The Handout Provided in the Show’s Program With Recommendations for HelpingMentally Disordered People Live Better LivesTHINGS NEEDED TO IMPROVE LIVESFOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH MENTALDISORDER+ CHANGE MASS MEDIA IMAGESDEPICTiNG PEOPLE LIVING WITHMENTAL ILLNESSCHANGE EMPLOYER ATTITUDESIMPROVE TRANSPORTATIONSERVICES+ LEARN MORE ABOUT MENTALILLNESS- DON’T HIDE FROMPEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS+ VALUE HEALTHCARE AND SOCIALWORKERS+ INCREASE FUNDING FOR:RESEARCH, EDUCATION, ANDINCOME SUPPORTAFFORDABLE HOUSINGLET US SIT ON POLICY-MAKINGBOARDS THAT DETERMiNE HOW WEARE TO LIVE AND EXISTREHABILITATION CENTRESINCREASED FUNDING TOVOLUNTEERS+ BECOME MORE OUTSPOKEN ANDPOLITICAL AROUND MENTALHEALTH/ILLNESS ISSUES+ CREATE SELF-EMPLOYMENT FORTHOSE LIVING WITH MENTALILLNESS+ CREATE A BARTER SYSTEM FORGOODS AND SERVICES+ GREATER ACCESS ANDACCOMMODATION TO TRAININGAND EDUCATION FOR THOSELIVING WITH MENTAL ILLNESSSUPPORT ALL CAREGIVERS,ESPECIALLY FAMILYWHAT ATTRIBUTES MAKE A GREATCAREGIVERThe cast has asked that this listing ofwhatmakes a great caregiver, for them, be includedwithin this program. Given that this isCanadian Mental Health Week and the natureof the show is, in part, about care givingaround mental health — and given, mostimportantly, the hand knowledge ofthe grouphere are some wise words from those whoknow most! Caregivers need to:V Be non-judgmentalV Be educated in the issues aroundmental healthV Be consistentV Be broad-mindedV Give unconditional love and supportV Be perceptiveV Give and maintain clear boundariesV Have a clear sense of the “big picture”i.e. be networked into the localcommunityV Give of themselves — emotionally,spiritually, psychologically,experientiallyV Know when to let go of the personliving with mental disabilities so he/shecan walk on his/her ownV Be adaptive and able to change as theperson with the mental disabilitygrows, changes— don’t treat the illness,support the personV More public and community-wideinitiatives around people living withmental health issues•:••:•113the potential to resonate with other groups not reflected in the mainstream, i.e., changingmedia images is something demanded of sexual minorities, larger people, rural citizensand so on. The notion of the “closet” is hinted at here through changing attitudes andbecoming educated on the issues and people involved. Inviting psychiatric survivors totake part in activities that directly influenced their lives, from research to employment isa strongly felt by the co-searcher. This notion came from other marginalized peopledemanding the same.The key within this study is the translation between physicality and writtenlanguage. The early portion of this chapter was grounded within concrete, physical meansfor communicating and making meaning. Mapped “moments of recognition” generatingthe show appears in Appendix H. This report is based in the experience of the cast;writing about what occurred created the slipperiness of translating embodied performanceinto text.SummaryThis chapter moved beyond Chapters 1 and 2 to illustrate, through the work of the cast,how insiders to the mental health system have started to rethink their role and placewithin society by creatively and enactively playing with taken-for-granted relationshipswithin their lives. Disturbing how they think of themselves to generate a greater sense ofautonomy was discovered through the games and play that involved the use of exercisesthat scrutinized relationships of authority. The performative inquiry drew out moresimilarities than differences, moving the project closer to achieving its stated purposes: todisrupt “normal” ways of thinking about psychiatric diversity by challenging prevailing114notions of mental “illness” and create better relationships between psychiatricallydiagnosed and other people.The first connections made were between counselors and mental health clientswithin the cast. What occurred, in the leveling out of hierarchies, provided promise forthe potential in the larger social world. A key piece was how the co-searchers consideredthe guiding research question: What shUis occur within a group ofrural adults living withmental disorder(s) as it developed andpresented an absurdistpopular theatre communityproduction?Self-concepts became informed by how they experienc