We are happy to announce that Jeremy Weller is invited to start Practice based PhD in September 2017, with Queen Mary University London.
This practice-based PhD project comprises a trilogy of plays written by me, and documentation of process in which Thomas, a former mafia enforcer, is enabled to tell the complex story of his violent of- fending and rehabilitation. In the three plays, performers including Thomas will perform characters closely modeled on their own perceived identities and social roles, and experiences. The first play, entitled Doubting Thomas, has already been written, performed and highly acclaimed by general, theater professional, and academic audiences. Part 2, Doglife was performed in the Edinburgh Festival 2017. The project will draw on my significant experience over 22 years of working in prisons and young offenders’ institutions and with marginalised groups in the UK and worldwide. A recurring theme for this work is offenders’ and young people’s sense that violent behavior is part of a role that they are compelled to play but which does not authentically represent them.
Carthasis for me in my performances is a release of emotion in a constructed scene, which leads to understanding an ‘I get it moment’. Thomas, from the play, ‘Doubting Thomas’, has said, “I feel released and a burden has gone from me. I can live again, and I’ve had my first dream in my life.”
The project will involve researching and creating a series of out- comes: three plays in performance; a filmed documentary work; and a written reflection on the process. Together, these will investigate: how performance can be used in the rehabilitation and transformation of violent offenders; the cultural performance of gendered violence; the social and psychological effects of social role playing within the marginalised cultures involved in the project; a contemporary use and purpose for the notion of ‘catharsis’; the development of a methodology for making performance with marginalised groups in which group members re-perform their own lives; and the development of ways of disseminating and recording this methodology.