Catharsis

24 Feb

When I tell people this is what I majored in I usually get a look.  Then I say:  “I did a lot of work in emotional psychology, performance studies, and liberal arts.”  More space or confusion.  I tell them that I also have a minor in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, and dance.

I am not sure that any of that helps. 🙂

Economics anyone?

For the record catharsis is:

1. the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.

2.Medicine/Medical .

a. purgation

3. Psychiatry .

a. psychotherapy that encourages or permits the discharge of pent-up, socially unacceptable affects.

b. discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition.

 

I used this idea of catharsis as a framework for both my academic research and my creative explorations.  Aristotle, the philosopher that originated the term,  believed it was through an interaction with art (mainly tragedy) that a person could come to understand and release his / her emotions.  Simply, catharsis speaks towards the relief we feel after a movie makes us cry.  We are somehow lighter.  In the best of cases, we are somehow more connected within.
In my thesis production, I offered catharsis and understanding for my audience (or at least I REALLY tried to…).  I created a six part show designed around six ‘basic’ emotions:  happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise.  These emotions are thought to be present cross-culturally from birth, as evidenced by facial expressions.  It is theorized that these emotions are naturally selected for because they help us survive.
Accordingly, since we all have these ‘basic’ emotions, I thought they would be a good frame to compose my work on.  In my pieces, I sought to either elicit or demonstrate each emotion, so that my audience could have the joy of feeling and the release of letting go.  Catharsis.  There were hot dogs (*remind me to tell you about this one!), balloons, screams, scratching, and a whole lot of confrontation.  People got to wake up for an emotion.  Or six.  And, I know because my college required me to get data after the event. 🙂
It may in the end just be better to show you though.  Here is a clip! (It starts with a long bit of black– don’t worry–it’s supposed to.  There was movement going on on stage at the time…)
And, some photos from my thesis production:  “Affect-ive”.
I am still so humbled and grateful for the courage and beauty that everyone shared with me on this project.  Awe.  People can awe.
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One Response to “Catharsis”

  1. danielle February 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    i love it! I want to see the whole thing!

    also i have always had a major crush on matt savoie :p

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