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Background

Kaivalya Plays chose to start this podcast series after launching a first of its kind Safety Research Study into the performing arts in 2020. The study is completely self-funded at this stage. We wished to create safety practices at arts organizations around India. Due to an insufficiency of funds we still have not been able to start our main work, which is to investigate and propose individualized safety practices built by the organizations themselves with our facilitation.

 

Rather than continue waiting, we chose to reach out and start learning as much as we could about the work of other practitioners. In the hope that we could demonstrate the importance of this work and generate interest in more practitioners and organizations joining the work of safety and realize the importance of good mental health practices to achieve our full potential as artists. 

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The Practice of Safety in the Performing Arts

 A director's personal journey into understanding safety, consent and conduct in the rehearsal room, and by extension, for the performing arts in India.

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Note from Artistic Director

Hi. My name is Varoon P. Anand and I will be your host and guide through this series as we learn how theatre makers from around the world apply their specialty to understanding, representing and providing relief to mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, autism, schizophrenia and others.

 

We will also endeavour to make this podcast practical and useful for you, the listener. Each episode will include a technique you can apply or a practice you can start for self-care or for your arts organization. Each week we will release a new podcast that will feature the voices of several practitioners on a dedicated topic including dealing with the stigma associated with mental care work, self-care for practitioners and facilitators, dealing with conflicts, and focusing our awareness among several others. 

As artistic director of Kaivalya Plays I wanted to thank our entire team, especially Flora Stanley and Asmi Mitra who coordinated the logistics and edited these podcasts, as well as the general manager of Kaivalya Plays Gaurav Singh, our communications manager Stuti Kanoonga and our consultants Nuhar Bansal and Anshuma Kshetrapal. 

 

Most of all I would like to thank you for listening and sharing these as far and wide as possible to continue tackling the stigma and misconceptions that surround all the topics related to mental health. 

I look forward to sharing this journey with you. 

 

Let’s begin.

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Season 1 Guests & Speakers:

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Lucy Fennel

Improviser, Director

United Kingdom

Lucy is an improviser, director, teacher and the mischievous creator of The Dirty Picnic Club; a social experiment meets improvised theatre show. She is a founding member of Impromptu Shakespeare and as well as improvisation, Lucy has trained in Lecoq, clowning and bouffon. She is a qualified teacher and is a qualified intimacy director with Intimacy for Stage and Screen.

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Nithya Rao

Co-Founder, Heart It Out

India

A certified rehabilitation psychologist working with young adults, and entrepreneurs. Nithya offer psychotherapy for those dealing with trauma, abuse, loss, and death. They work in the spaces of self-expression, business coaching, entrepreneurship, event management, and innovation.

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Anshuma Kshetrapal

Founder, Color of Grey Cells

India

Anshuma Kshetrapal is a practicing Drama and Movement Psychotherapist registered with BADth (British Association of Dramatherapists). She has an MA in Drama and Movement Therapy from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, UK, an MA in Psychosocial Clinical Studies from Ambedkar university, Delhi and an FECAT certification from SMART, Bangalore.

 

She is an advisory board member for the Creative Movement Therapy Association of India (CMTAI) and is designing curriculum and teaching in their Delhi, Bangalore and Pune courses. Having over 8 years of experience as a trauma counselor, Anshuma has worked with adults and children, in the field of mental health with a range of settings such as clinics, hospitals, NGOs, schools and corporates in Delhi, Bangalore and London. In 2016, she organized and completed a three month long, pan India tour in which she gave several talks and conducted experiential workshops along with her colleagues from the UK. Her current service offerings include individual and group therapy, supervision and consultation for peers and junior creative arts therapists, facilitating workshops in various settings and teaching in various institutes.

 

In her endeavour to spread awareness about the use of the arts for therapy, she founded The Color of Grey Cells, to conduct workshops for students, therapists and clients alike because she is passionate about spreading the word about working with the mind and body nexus, using stories, poetry, movement, role playing and visual arts

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Feisal Alkazi

Founder, Ruchika Theatre Group

India

Feisal Alkazi, founder of the 47-years-old Ruchika Theatre Group in Delhi, is an educationist, theatre director and activist, and directed over 200 plays in Hindi, English and Urdu. After his Masters in Social Work, he headed Ankur, a society for alternatives in education, taught at the Jamia Mass Communication Research Centre and is a counsellor with the Sanjivini Society for Mental Health.

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Barbara Khler

Founder, Die Gorillas

Germany

Founding member of Die Gorillas. Training in drama, singing and dance at the Berlin School of Performing Arts. Additional qualification singing pedagogy Further education as a music therapist at the Institute for Music Therapy Berlin Psychotherapist according to the German law on naturopathy. Therapeutically active in the Center For Mental Health, Berlin. Social psychiatric outpatient clinic for children and adolescents »Jona«, Treuenbrietzen Fliedner Clinic, Berlin.

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Kelly Hunter

Artistic Director, Flute Theatre

United Kingdom

Kelly is the Artistic Director of Flute Theatre, for whom she has created Hamlet, Twelfth Night, The Tempest for children with autism, A Midsummer Nights Dream for young people with autism and their families and Pericles for people with autism. Flute’s productions tour internationally and Kelly travels with the shows, additionally giving lectures and seminars about her pioneering work.

 

She is the creator of The Hunter Heartbeat Method, a series of sensory drama games for young people with autism and their families. This methodology was the basis of a longitudinal study at Ohio State University 2011-2015 and is currently being researched by Professor Antonia Hamilton at the neuroscience lab at University College London.

 

Kelly is an award winning actor, she has performed with the RSC, Royal National Theatre, English Touring Theatre and Vesturport, Iceland.

 

She is the author of two books, Shakespeare’s Heartbeat, drama games for children with autism published by Routledge and Cracking Shakespeare; A hands-on guide for actors and directors published by Bloomsbury. She was awarded the MBE for her services to theatre in Summer 2019.

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Maitri Gopalakrishna

Drama Therapist

India

Maitri Gopalakrishna, MA, RDT is a drama therapist based in Bangalore, India. She is currently working on her Ph.D. at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. She also does clinical therapeutic work at the Parivarthan Counselling Training and Research Centre and is faculty on the Foundation Course in Expressive and Creative Arts Therapies in Bangalore. She practices feminist drama therapy and is deeply involved in the intersections of psychological suffering and socio-political oppressions. Her work often involves performative sharing including public performances.

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Jennifer Kanary

Founder, roomforthoughts

Netherlands

Jennifer Kanary is the Founder of roomforthoughts, an artistic research practice that uses installation art and technology to address mental health issues. As an artist, she is best known for the project Labyrinth Psychotica. For the past 14 years, she has dedicated her life to understanding psychosis and using her abilities as an artist to find methods for others to better understand the subjective experiences of psychosis. The artistic research results of her PhD thesis, 'The Wearable' and 'The Labyrinth', were launched to the public in 2013. Her team has been on an entrepreneurial journey ever since, visiting 20 countries (and counting), training close to 18.000 stakeholders such as professional mental health care workers, police officers, and prison workers.

About Kaivalya Plays

 

Kaivalya Plays is an indian performing arts company led by Varoon P. Anand as its Artistic Director and Gaurav Singh as General Manager. 

 

In 2018, we received a grant to create a theatrical production that studied the therapeutic effects of improv games (as pioneered by Viola Spolin) on mental health conditions. In the creation of that production, in order to protect the performers, we were compelled to bring in a drama therapist to help us ensure the safety of the cast members. The unique "safe space" practice we created through the production Unravel gave us tools and rituals for the space, the performers and the audience. This experience made us realise the acute scarcity of, and need for, conversations and systems in place around safety in theatre and, by extension, the performing arts.

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Safety in Performing Arts

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Cast & Crew

Safe. Sound. Spontaneous.

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A podcast series on the work of global theatre practitioners in the realm of mental health. 

Over the course of this podcast series we will hear from remarkable practitioners who have taken theatre games, practices, texts, rhythms and other techniques and applied them in unexpected and novel ways. We will also check in with expert medical practitioners about advancements and opportunities in the field.