The research project "The Urge of Being refers to the work carried out in the frame of the Master of Arts in Artistic Research at Accademia Teatro Dimitri, Switzerland, 2017-2019.
The research projects consisted in investigating the effects that the 2-day workshop The Urge of Being has on participants (students of Accademia Teatro Dimitri).
The Urge of Being is a 2-day workshop offered to performing artists which aims to access the biological core of energy and emotions, channel and express it. It works with movement, voice, text and songs both under the theatrical and scientific points of view.
Grounded on the recent dialogue between Science and Art, this research project aims to investigate the relation between physical theater and recent biological and neuroscientific theories of emotions, feelings and embodiment, such as Biochemistry of Emotions by Candace Pert and the theories of Antonio Damasio. The most influential theatrical approach of The Urge of Being is the research of Jerzy Grotowski in the form of the "Plastiques” and “body-voice training”. The relation between theatrical practice and life science was developed with the aim to explore the possible effects and advantages that performers can gain both by knowing such theories and by engaging in training inspired by them.
The mentioned theories of emotions have been selected to inspire, inform and support the specific approach to the theatrical work on emotions that it is conducted during the workshop. This approach is strictly physical because the workshop leads the performer to access his expressivity and emotional sphere from his physicality and through the work with his inner impulses, with the intent to work with his biological source of expression and channel it into an artistic communication.
The interdisciplinary approach of The Urge of Being aims to let the trainee experience that the artistic expression can be accessed through the dialogue between the tangible and intangible aspects of the human being: biology and art.
Full thesis here
The research project "The Urge of Being" investigates how the performer experiences authenticity when authenticity is in relation to the biological need to express oneself.
Urgency: the push to survive. In the frame of the workshop the the urgency is called Artistic survival mode, a condition in which the performer consciously generates the own urgency and works with inner impulses.
Expression: (ex-press = press-out) > manifestation/actuation of one's needs – from inside-out.
Embodiment: (em-body = put in or into the body) how the person perceives the world and experiences it – from outside-in.
The workshop creates the condition to build an energetic process (of several natures) trough which the performer can work with the emotional system from the inside-out. This way of working with the emotions supports the biological role of emotions: in biology emotions needed to be expressed, (ex-press = press-out) and disclosed from the inside-out in order to accomplish their role of survival. This is why in the workshop the performer works with different urgency patterns to reach the source of emotions rather than representing emotions by adopting fixed physical pattern from the outside-in. In this way the performer experience himself/herself not as an interpreter of emotional state but as a channel of emotional impulses.
From the analysis of the results, one of the most evident effects of the workshop is that it triggers an artistic expression based on an emotional way of working and articulation that is non-representational and it is experienced as authentic by participants and trainer.
Analysing the results, a dynamic that touches all these aspects of authenticity was found, and it is the work in opposition, a condition in which the performer establishes a dialogue between two extremities, two opposite dimensions or forces.
The work in opposition allowed different dynamics: the opposition between “(energetic, emotional, freedom) attachment and detachment” allowed the give and take process; the opposition “voice support and resonance cavity” consented the development and expression of emotional states; the opposition “structured exercises and improvisation phases” allowed the sense of freedom, urgency and authenticity of expression; the “muscular contraction and elongation” allowed the emergence of emotions and described a physical sensation of freedom; the opposition between “inside and outside of the organism” allowed the real connections in the group, so the establishment of a non representational communication. The opposition “body and mind” allowed the trainee to explore the condition of self-controlled loss of control, a situation in which the activities of brain are organically integrated in the artistic expression.
Each opposition acts as an organized unity in which the very dialogue between the parts generates artistic meanings. In this context, also authenticity is experienced as an alive and mutable channel of impulses that works in dialogue between the parts and in the real moment.
Hence, if the first conclusion of this thesis is that the workshop provoked a feeling of authenticity in the participates, the second conclusion is that it does it through stimulating the interaction between certain components in the “work in opposition.”
The reason why the performer experiences a feeling of authenticity is that by working in opposition, the trainee is in the condition to continuously re-arrange his homeostasis, his adaptation capability, so to accesses expression by the homeostasis. The trainee experienced a personal, free and authentic way to express herself, because her expression is based on the alive, necessary and real interaction between certain components.
As in biology the dialogue between inside and outside of the organism is the basis for adaptation which is necessary for survival, the artist who works in the artistic survival mode, stimulates her self-regulation and obtains an expression triggered by her urgency.
In this way of expressing oneself, also the emotional states are experienced as functionally integrated in the communication between the parts: in fact emotions are not the goal of communication, but they are tools of communication and the trainee doesn’t represent them, but uses them to communicate the urgency.
So the third conclusion of this thesis is that participants experienced that emotions originate themselves from the interaction between the intangible impulse to survival and its tangible actuation: between the urgency and its actuation.