Ryerson Theatre School to host first International Conference in Greece
July 03, 2012
This month, Ryerson University’s Theatre School will host Women and War, an international conference that will bring together artistic creation and performance with mental health research. Organized in partnership with Ryerson’s director of clinical training in psychology, the conference and its featured performances will examine how Greek plays can offer catharsis for today’s military men and women.
Ryerson Theatre School chair Peggy Shannon and co-researcher Candice Monson, professor and director of clinical training in psychology have recently arrived in Greece with 34 Ryerson undergraduate and graduate students for a month of performances, workshops and an international conference based on classic Greek plays to help theatre goers and conference participants understand the science behind post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“I wanted it to be global, to be more than just putting on a play,” Shannon says. “I want women to really engage with the material and look at it from a female lens.” Her aim is that the performances combined with the workshops will spark dialogue and awareness about the realities of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We want to work across sectors to co-create solutions for PTSD,” she said, adding that while post-traumatic stress disorder is the most treatable of mental health issues, the challenge is treating the stigma.
The first International Women and War Conference takes place from July 3 to 5 in Hydra, Greece. Entitled “Building an Interdisciplinary Dialogue”, the conference will examine the fusion of historical, aesthetic, theoretical, psychological, and imaginative investigations into the identity and understanding of female roles and archetypes within war. Members of the academic, military, artistic, mental health and political communities will gather to exchange and discuss research on the experience of women before, during and after war. The conference will coincide with a Women & War photo exhibition July 1 to 8 depicting 60 images from 1945 to 1990 that portray women’s roles in war. The photos were gathered from the Black Star Collection at Ryerson.
Women & War will feature three plays directed by Shannon, based on the ancient Greek plays; Iphegenia in Aulis, Electra and Ajax. Explored themes will include self-sacrifice and justice. Award-winning playwrights Judith Thompson, Timberlake Wertenbaker and Velina Hasu Houston have written the modern adaptations of the plays. In addition to the conference itself, all three plays will be performed in Greece throughout the month of July.
As part of the project, Monson will interview female veterans and, together with Shannon, will offer several drama-therapy workshops to female soldiers. During these sessions, small groups of women will discuss and act out their experiences of war and explore relaxation techniques. The researchers plan to expand the workshops at military bases across Canada starting next year.
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