Back to the Project / Reading Eugenio Barba

I am back to blogging! I have taken a few steps back for the past couple of months, but now I am back on the project. The traveling is over, reflecting has been practiced, and now it is time to start researching styles of theatre for me to present my piece. I am brainstorming how my time traveling lends itself to the ultimate goal: the performance.

Today I began reading excepts from The Twentieth Century Performance Reader, edited by Michael Huxley and Noel Witts, which my mentor, Gretchen, assigned me. I began with a chapter on Eugenio Barba, an Italian/Norwegian theatre theorist and director. He founded the International School of Theatre Anthropology, which really excites me because I had no idea this field already existed! Something he wrote actually reminded me a lot of my motivations for this performance project. He wrote, “Like a melting pot in which the most disparate metals fuse, so inside me at the outset I tried to blend together the most diverse influences, the impressions which for me had been the most fertile” (p 39). Though he is speaking of different influences than those that apply to my project, I too feel as though I am drawn to diverse areas of study for reasons I am not necessarily conscious of, but for an inner need that I must seek to fulfill.

What I am currently working on is research for HOW to present my piece. I have decided to narrow my “performance project” into the category of “solo performance.” Right now Gretchen has me researching different methods and approaches to theatre, which will guide me in the creation of the piece. I have a lot of content, but now is the time to find the structure for communicating it.

Something that I think of often from my trip is when a man told me a story of his friends’ father. He said, “Black fella, white fella, yellow fella, pink fella. You cut-a the skin, we all the same.” I think I want this to be one of the major pinpoints of my piece. I will most likely use characters loosely based off of those people I met on my trip. One of the challenges I am facing is how to make my research in Australia relevant to an American audience. I think I can illuminate that bridge by bringing my attention back to the reason I myself was drawn to this project in the first place: I am drawn to the Indigenous knowledge and spirituality. I think in America too there is landscape, history, indigenous knowledge, and spiritual life that has direct parallels to the Aboriginals in Australia.

Now to continuing reading . . . I will be posting my responses over this weekend. 🙂

Thank you for reading along!


Secrets of Aboriginal Healing

“It doesn’t matter what we call the energy force that delivers the message, the important thing is that we listen to it.” 

In preparation for my studies abroad I read a beautiful book, Secrets of Aboriginal Healing, by Gary Holz, D.Sc., with Robbie Holz. The book is Holz’s retelling of his experience with a remote Aboriginal tribe. The story starts when he is diagnosed with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis, during which your nerve cells are disrupted and your body slowly goes numb. Western medicine has not yet found a cure for the illness. He is a successful physicist who is failed by western medicine, so he decides to try another approach. Although he is resistant to the ideas at first, he ends up embracing the Aboriginal healing techniques, recovers from the multiple sclerosis, awakens his own healing abilities, and even returns to the US to teach the techniques to others.

If you know me, you know this is exactly the type of story I love. Although I am beyond excited to start my academic journey, this book makes me want to study exclusively with a remote tribe. Maybe during my next visit down under.

What I appreciate most about this practice so far is that although it acknowledges intellectual pursuits as valuable, it recognizes that the pursuits of the heart far surpass what the intellect can achieve. The path of the Aboriginals is a journey to the heart, a path to go inward. Already, this is a fundamentally and radically different way of life, relative to that of the West. Although I have been drawn to spiritual paths that hold similar core concepts, these specific techniques, used to access those “higher” parts of the Self and achieve wholeness and healing, are both uniquely beautiful and totally common sense, in my opinion.

This book has introduced me to a few core ideas of the traditional Aboriginal spiritual life. The book discusses in detail the six steps to healing, which are all intertwined:

  1. Connectedness
  2. Willingness
  3. Awareness
  4. Acceptance
  5. Empowerment
  6. Focus

One of the more controversial ideas in the book is that we attract and create our own realities. While this could understandably be interpreted as inhumane, at the same time I am somewhat convinced. Though it implies you have created something negative in your life, it also gives you the power to destroy it and create something else for yourself. Holz comes to realize that it is his set of beliefs and mindset that are literally creating the disease within his body. Western medicine treats the diagnosis, whereas these techniques heal the whole person. This tribe believes the root of any physical symptom is the result of a spiritual or subconscious problem. In the book they find the root of Holz’s disease by discovering that he has trained himself to emotionally numb and distance himself from life’s circumstances and relationships, which led to his nerves literally choosing not to feel anything. When I say his nerves “choose,” that is because the book also explains that every cell in the body has it’s own consciousness, another radical and impossible thought for most Western scientists.

Another concept I found helpful for myself is using the power of your words for good. In the book we learn that words and thoughts contain our energy and they are what we send forth as the manifestation of our realities. It’s not as simple as changing the words we use though, it has to be on a subconscious level as well. The book goes into detail about how to access those parts of yourself and utilize them to give yourself positive results.

Although I could write about this book for hours, one of the last things I will bring up is the idea that we not only carry our own emotional baggage from this lifetime, but we have psychic programming, left over from past lives and even our ancestors. I was so excited to read more about this, because I was first introduced to this notion during research for a solo performance piece I wrote and performed last year. According to Aboriginals, so much of healing is linked to releasing ourselves of this programming.

Although I won’t be traveling to study with remote tribes in the outback this summer, I do feel there is a great spiritual and life journey that awaits me at the other side of the world! This book has sparked excitement and inspiration for that adventure. I can’t wait to contextualize this information more by taking my course and doing my own exploring!


Thanks for reading my first post! 4 days until I take off…

– Ariana