The Awesome Puppet Company

Heeling the Wound
A performance and panel discussion of Sophocles’ play Philoctetes by The Awesome Puppet Company.
 

Philoctetes is one of the heroes of the Trojan War. Sophocles’ play tells of the unimaginable pain and suffering he endures after he is bitten in the foot by a venomous snake. The wound festers so badly that the smell alone repulses those around him. Philoctetes’ suffering is exacerbated by his deceitful men who, on their way to the battlefields in Troy, leave him behind on the desolate island of Lemnos for ten interminable years where he barely manages to survive. 

The story is a dramatic representation of one individual’s inconceivable pain and suffering. Yet, a central question the play asks concerns the meaning and value of healing when the social, cultural, and moral structures that are meant to protect a community and support its health and wellbeing are eroded by neglect and abandonment. In this sense, the play speaks directly to many of the profound and intractable concerns that permeate the therapeutic community daily.

The Awesome Puppet Company’s production draws inspiration from Seamus Heaney’s and Bryan Doerries’s translations of Philoctetes, the production and aesthetic values of Japanese Bunraku and Noh theatre, and free improvisation in music and encounter art.  It is a radical adaptation of Sophocles’ play that incorporates puppetry, masks, narrative, voice, and live music and brings a surprisingly buoyant and optimistic tone to a serious subject. The audience will be invited to participate through reflective process and a panel discussion at the end of the performance.

Heeling the Wound reflects the conference’s provocative theme of probing and engaging with hubris and imaginal capacity: whereas Don Quixote, in his deluded prowess, tilts at windmills, mistaking them for giants, Philoctetes is forced to swallow his pride and accept his companions’ false remorse.

The performance celebrates the interdisciplinarity and international ethos of the ECArTE community in Quixotic spirit by bringing together art, music and drama therapists from within the membership who represent over ten different countries and cultures. It is the first performance of its kind at an ECArTE conference.

 

Biography

The Awesome Puppet Company was established in Bath (UK) in 2000.  It is run on a project basis and invites local and international collaborations with other puppeteers, artists, musicians, therapists, and students. The central premise of the project is to offer a transformational experience that entertains, educates, communicates and touches people’s lives. The Company is committed to promoting global wellbeing based on shared and enduring values.

Daniel Stolfi, PhD is a UK-based dramatherapist, medical anthropologist, and the artistic director of The Awesome Puppet Company.  He is a Core Tutor and Academic Support Lead on the MA programme in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy at Terapia in London as well as the organization’s Institutional Link Tutor with Middlesex University. He has been a visiting lecturer at The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama and Anglia Ruskin University in the UK and has also presented his work extensively in the US, including NYU Steinhardt and the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). He has a specialist interest in the therapeutic uses of puppetry, and how our understanding and experience of suffering and healing are informed by and reproduce social and cultural value.  He is active in education, training, research, and publishing in these fields.

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The Awesome troupe for the performance consists of:

  1. Danel Amstelveen (Netherlands)
  2. Lotte Darsø (Denmark)
  3. Roulla Demetriou (UK/Cyprus)
  4. Laura Euving (Netherlands)
  5. Antigone Ikkos-Serrano (UK/Greece/Spain)
  6. Daniëlle Jurriëns (Netherlands)
  7. Theodoros Kostidakis (UK/Greece/Cyprus)
  8. Henriëtte Leurdijk (Netherlands)
  9. Elsa Lubbers (Netherlands)
  10. Cecilie Meltzer (Norway)
  11. Marilena Muratori (Italy/Spain)
  12. Sybe Rietman (Netherlands)
  13. Gerben Roefs (Netherlands)
  14. Sarah Scoble (UK)
  15. Daniel Stolfi (UK/Italy/South Africa)
  16. Becky White (UK)
  17. Samantha Wraith (UK)
     

Danel Amstelveen is a second-year music therapy student at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht in The Netherlands. His current placement is with Amerpoort, an organisation that focuses on people with learning disabilities. Alongside day care, music therapy and musical events are some of the services offered to clients.  Danel is a multi-instrumentalist and plays the guitar, bass, ukulele, and drums. 

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Lotte Darsø, PhD is Associate Professor in Innovation at University of Aarhus, Denmark. She is a researcher, author and an acknowledged conference speaker both nationally and internationally. Her main areas of interest are innovation, creativity and artful approaches in educational and organisational settings. Her distinct focus is on the 'human factor' and its significance for leading and succeeding with innovation. Lotte is one of the founders of the executive master programme, Leadership and Innovation in Complex Systems at Aarhus; and received The Industrial PhD Fellowship Prize 2000 for her research on innovation. She has published extensively in both Danish and English, and her book, Artful Creation: Learning-Tales of Arts-in-Business (2004), led to her being invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos as workshop leader and panel discussant.

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Roulla Demetriou is a UK-based drama and movement therapist and clinical supervisor in private practice. She is a permanent Lecturer on the MA Dramatherapy programme at Anglia Ruskin University and a supervisor for dramatherapy students at The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama and at Roehampton University. She was a pioneer of dramatherapy in Cyprus where she lived for fifteen years and contributed to introducing the Arts Therapies into the Mental Health Services there. She has also conducted training workshops in Greece and Israel and contributed regularly to dramatherapy conferences. Her research interests include the archetypal nature of myths and stories and their use in dramatherapy. She is the editor of British Association of Dramatherapists’ Journal, Dramatherapy and the ECArTE representative for Anglia Ruskin University.

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Laura Euving is a third-year music therapy student in The Netherlands. She plays the flute and sings and is very passionate about the profession. She has worked with mentally disabled children and adults in psychiatry.  She has also taught foreign children Dutch by writing songs for them.  Laura is currently working at a school for mentally and visually disabled children and is specialising in working with children with special needs.

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Antigone Ikkos-Serrano is a London-based dramatherapist with a history in operatic performance and stage management and technical theatre. She is currently working as a creative arts therapist in a number of mainstream and special educational needs settings. Conference presentations include the British Association of Dramatherapists where she has also performed as part of the opening ceremony. As a member of the Wind-Up Penguin Theatre company, Antigone toured Peru as a facilitator and performer. She has performed in venues across the UK and Croatia and has worked with asylum seeking communities in Greece. Antigone’s specialist interests include how to use the operatic voice as a therapeutic medium and the affect of culture. 

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Daniëlle Jurriëns is a third-year music therapy student in The Netherlands. She has been playing the guitar since the age of twelve and recently did a music degree in Coventry in the UK.  She is passionate about working with people with psychological disorders and people with learning disabilities and wants to learn and grow into a great music therapist.

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Theodoros Kostidakis is a dramatherapist (MA Drama and Movement Therapy from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) and a shadow puppeteer (Greek traditional Karaghiozis) based in London. He also has a first degree and MA in architecture. He currently works as a therapist for two primary schools with students with special social, emotional and mental health needs, as well as for the Refugee Council with unaccompanied children and adolescents seeking asylum in the UK.  Theodoros has presented his work at several conferences, organised by the British Association of Dramatherapists, University of South Wales, the Royal Anthropological Institute and the British Museum, among others. His main interests include the notions of space/place and shadow play in dramatherapy; especially with children/young people and refugees/asylum seekers.

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Henriëtte Leurdijk is a final year music therapy student at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht in The Netherlands. Her internships have focused on psychiatric work, care for the disabled, and care for the elderly.  Henriëtte discovered a passion for theatre through creative storytelling and has since followed several courses theatre studies.  Her special interest in music therapy is songwriting, and her graduation research project investigates transdiagnostic approaches with different forms of songwriting in psychiatry.

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Elsa Lubbers is a third-year dramatherapy student from the Netherlands. During her internships she has worked in adult psychiatry and gave theatre improvisation workshops to vulnerable adolescents. Her main focus is on improvisational theatre and storytelling and she is planning to specialize in the DvT method after her studies. Besides dramatherapy, she has a great passion for music and art. 

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Cecilie Meltzer is Associate Professor in Arts-based Learning at Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet). She has an MA from the National Academy of Arts, an MA in Special Needs Education from Oslo University, and is a certified Psychotherapist in Art Therapy at the European Association for Psychotherapy. Her research areas focus on how art-based learning methods can increase process awareness, release latent resources, support individual and group creativity and promote change and development in schools and working life. In her articles, she shares her methodological approaches to arts-based learning when teaching students at the Department of Vocational Teacher Education.

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Marilena Muratori is an Italian puppeteer and primary school teacher. She is currently undertaking doctoral studies at the Complutense University in Madrid and is investigating the potential of puppetry in education. She is member of Movimento di Cooperazione Educativa, the Italian educational association, for which she has developed artistic, educational, and intercultural courses. Her published work includes: In una notte di temporale, in “Fare scuola con l'arte. Casa mia/Casa tua” (2018); Edmondo, maestro di storie, Cooperazione Educativa, 6 (2017); and La Seconda Vita delle Cose (1999).

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Sybe Rietman is a third-year music therapy student at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht in The Netherlands. His internships have involved work with adults and the elderly with ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) and children with learning difficulties caused by behaviour problems, autism and ADHD. He has also followed courses in dramatherapy and play therapy where the focus has been on the use, meaning and power of the body as instrument; and he will be starting a new internship in September in a psychiatric clinic for children with trauma, depression and mood affective disorders.  Sybe has been a drummer since he was born and plays anything he can use as a drumkit.  He started playing in his first rock band from the age of eleven and has been involved with several bands playing different styles ever since. His special interest is in improvisational music therapy, where he can use all his energy!

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Gerben Roefs is a registered music therapist from the Netherlands and has worked in a clinical forensic setting (maximum security state hospital) for nine years. Since 2015, Gerben has taught music therapy methodology at the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and is active on the international conference circuit where he presents workshops and papers regularly.  He loves combining the clinical work as a music therapist, (in Elderly Care), with the intensive work with students and helping them discover the passion that drives them to become music therapists.

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Sarah Scoble joined ECArTE as Member Representative in its founding year, 1991. From 1995 to 2017, she was a member of the Executive Board and a Director of ECArTE’s international conferences. She was elected Chair of the Consortium from 2009 to 2017 and is now Hon. President. For many years, she was Head of the Centre for Performing Arts and Media at South Devon College, UK, where she was also a founder trainer of the first southwest postgraduate Diploma in Dramatherapy. In 1987, she became Course Leader of the Exeter-based postgraduate Diploma and Masters in Dramatherapy programmes and, later, Director of the Southwest School for Dramatherapy Limited. She is Series Editor with Diane Waller, with Routledge, for an annual volume of monographs on International Research in the Arts Therapies.  

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Becky White is a music therapist with twenty years’ experience working with children and young people in special education settings. She is an active musician, playing bass guitars (electric and acoustic) and trombone. Current projects include jazz and folk song writing with voice and bass duo After Lark, a member of the Improvisation Cube Cinema Orchestra and musical support for Bristol Contact Dance Improvisation. She is currently in the final stages of an arts-based PhD in learning experiences in improvised music at the University of the West of England, using graphic scores, interviews with post-graduate students and recordings of improvisations. Becky teaches as a lecturer in music therapy at the University of the West of England and the University of South Wales, specialising in clinical improvisation.

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Samantha Wraith is National Director of Theatre Obscura theatre and dramatherapy company and Chair of Trustees at interactive performing arts Charity Root Experience. Samantha is a dramatherapist (MA), performance artist, trainer and consultant. Samantha currently studies Contemporary Performance Practices (MA) at UEL with ZU-UK.  With over 15 years’ experience of leading participatory arts-based experiences that incite and facilitate transformation, Samantha’s specialisms are process-led and research-based arts practices. She is particularly inspired and engaged by immersive theatre, sensory ethnographic research methods, trauma, memory and consciousness studies.

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