International Conference 
"Theatre Between Tradition and Contemporaneity"
Theatre - Dance - Music - Visual & Multimedia Art - Arts Administration - Performing Arts Training - Theatre Design & Technology

December 17 - 21, 2015


Dramatising Complex Trauma: An Exploration of the Collaborative Psycho-creative Process Between Director and Company

Research presentation (Power Point and documentary projection) - by Lisa Adams-Davey, performer, consultant, artistic director, Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts at Edge Hill University (EHU), United Kingdom.

Lisa Adams-Davey has been a Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts at Edge Hill University (EHU) since 2005 and is an Institutional Teaching and Learning Fellow. She qualified as a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) and Suicide Interventionist (ASIST) in 2014, has been awarded an International Certificate of recognition from LivingWorks, Canada, for her contributions to building Suicide-Safer Communities, and is studying Psychotherapeutic Counselling at Manchester University. 

Lisa’s research focuses on the interaction between Health and Performance, with an emphasis on Wellbeing. She writes Transformative Poetry as a restorative methodology and is the Artistic Director of Confiança Collaborative, a Theatre Company who focus their work on ‘mental’ illness, and the psychobiological interface, with a view to inspiring opinion and change. The company received international recognition for their “positive and constructive impact on society” in The Good News Planet, New York (October 2014) and have collaborated (2015) on Acting to Camera Master Classes with prominent BBC & ITV Television Director, Pip Short, and Nationally celebrated Casting Director, Dorothy Andrew. In October 2015, the company were part of the Liverpool World Mental Health Day Festival at The Everyman Theatre and The Playhouse Theatre, discussed “Dramatising Complex Trauma", and actively participated in the Round Table Debate. Confiança Collaborative also worked in partnership with freelance artist, Karyn Rayner-Killiner, and performance artist, Rachael Mutch, to launch the premiere of a new transformative artistry project Silent Scars I, focusing on PTSD and Clinical Depression: 

More recently, Lisa has been invited to direct A Mighty Spectacle, a Despicable Filmthe Fate of the Birth of a Nation, for Dr. Jenny Barrett at the Bluecoat, Liverpool (November 2015); a 15 year media research project concerning prejudice and slavery in Hollywood.

Lisa has over 20 years management and teaching experience and has particular expertise in Acting, Drama, Improvisation and Devising techniques, Physical Theatre, Performance Composition, Vocal Studies, Directing, and Performance Studies. She is a member of the National Hypnotherapy Society, the National Counselling Society, and the Arts for Wellbeing Research Group (EHU). Lisa is a Consultant in Stagecraft (Acting & Voice) for Opera Singers at the Royal Northern College of Music and has recently accepted invitations to write autobiographic articles on “Mental Health and Suicide Intervention from the Mediator’s Perspective” for Living Works, Canada.


This paper and documentary will discuss the collaborative production methodologies and the cross-disciplinary practice of They Shoot Dogs (Philip S. 2009) directed and produced by Lisa Adams Davey for the Rose Theatre, Ormskirk, with Psychotherapy Consultant, Julie Owen.

Given that the play focuses on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as seen through the lens of the military, this paper aims to explore the interconnections between the contested terms, “Psychological” and “Mental” health, with particular reference to Trauma and Performance. Footage drawn from the production and rehearsal process captures the creation of what has been termed ‘psycho-performativity’ (Bruhn and Wehrs, 2014), in which the interrelationship between psychotherapy (Health) and the embodiment of trauma (Performance) is comprehensively analysed. It will further examine how embodied representations of trauma within the performance context were realised and manifested themselves as cathartic experience, resulting in a deeper understanding of the human condition. 

In uncloaking the narrative of trauma, the actors were required to take substantial risks and were challenged by their own emotional histories, which required the creation of a safe psychosocial space within the boundaries of the performance milieu. Consequently, this paper will examine how individual and collaborative methodologies strengthened the psychosocial biological interface of the narrative in practice and proved to be personally therapeutic. Thus, the focus is on the performance of trauma as a dis-ease that threatens to attack wellbeing, whereby the performer functions as a visceral embodiment of somatic deterioration and decay. Conversely, the research proves that performing trauma has the capacity to promote wellbeing, as it draws attention to self-transformation.

Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse"