The concept of performance as a transformational experience is not unfamiliar in academic literature; Heddon (2008), Schechner (2013) and Zarrilli (2020) have all written about different aspects of transformations in theatre and performance, including the personal, the social and the political. The specific focus of this Practice as Research PhD is self-transformation and auto/biographical performance. It asks how making, devising and performing a solo auto/biographical piece of work might be a transformational experience for the performer. By transformation, the research refers to an inner shift in perspective on outer circumstances or events, or a change in meaning-making for and by the performer. The methodology revolves around the making of a series of experimental performances, which culminate in an online auto/biographical performance that both compliments and offers an alternative articulation to the written element of the thesis. Both emphasise heuristic processes of personal and inner inquiry, through which one illuminates the nature and meaning of an experience. The self of the researcher is at the heart of the process. The performance practice is carried out ‘in conversation’ with solo auto/biographical practitioners including Lisa Kron, Deb Margolin, Ken Campbell, Spalding Gray and Selina Thompson. It also explores how the work of Werner Erhard in the field of Transformative Learning, and the thinking of the Polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowski can be applied to solo auto/biographical theatre particularly in regard to their concern with human freedom. The research examines the role of place in personal history and at a personal level; it also explores concepts of Jewishness and Return in the author’s own practice. It analyses the practices of others and the author’s own work within specific theoretical and philosophical frameworks - in particular Buber’s ‘I-Thou’ encounter and Heidegger's thinking on possibility, presence and authenticity. The research finally proposes that a mode of performing referred to as ‘beyond technique’ is akin to Grotowski’s via negativa and achieves a state of being in which the performer transformatively experiences themself as whole and complete.

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