Published July 18, 2022 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Scarred Dancer: autobiographical performance with a woman in the psychiatric system


Background: we explore the hypothesis that Autobiographical Therapeutic Performance (ATP) is effective to help traumatized people heal from their wounds, express their gifts and benefit their communities.

Methodology: we analyse an individual case study of ATP conducted by the two authors in the capacities of director (Miramonti) and performer (Millán). Miramonti is Community Theatre professor and drama therapist while Millán is a young woman diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety, who attempted suicide and was in psychiatric care for four years. The two authors co-created an autobiographical monologue on the life of Millán, combining theatre, improvisational dance, puppetry and visual arts.

Results: this process of storytelling, embodiment and performance in front of an audience helped the re-framing on Millán’s biography and enhanced her sense of being a purposeful person in a purposeful world. This case study qualitatively corroborates the hypothesis that ATP could be effective in supporting individuals in creating cohesive life narrative, enhancing their wellbeing and the one of their communities. Moreover, ATP could be effective in de-pathologizing the representation of people diagnosed with psychiatric conditions, making their gifts visible and inviting them to use their experience to serve the healing of other traumatized people. Finally, we stress how ATP redefines the role of audiences as active subjects who “bear witness” and collectively engage in social inclusion.

Conclusions: we recommend the intentional and systematic use of ATP at the individual and community level, both as a prevention and healing tool to build collective resilience and choral resignification of traumatic experiences.




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