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'Goodnight, Sleep Tight': training performers as palliative carers in an age of system collapse

'Goodnight, Sleep Tight': training performers as palliative carers in an age of system collapse

Guillery, Kesia, Lopes Ramos, Jorge ORCID: 0000-0003-4868-9700 and Maravala, Persis-Jadé (2023) 'Goodnight, Sleep Tight': training performers as palliative carers in an age of system collapse. Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts, 27 (6-7). pp. 212-220. ISSN 1352-8165 (Print), 1469-9990 (Online) (doi:

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ZU-UK artists and associate analyse care in immersive work through case-study of Goodnight, Sleep Tight (ZU-UK, 2016-19), a performance exploring intimacy and childhood, merging VR input with live, physical performer-participant interaction, and a desire to understand human loneliness through the medium of touch. The analysis exhibits excerpts of ZU-UK Artistic Director Persis-Jadé Maravala’s instructional and explanatory materials, used to train performers who deliver Goodnight, Sleep Tight by embodying the role of a maternal carer. Reflecting on these excerpts through the lens of collapse theory (Spagnola 2022) and psychology and healthcare research into breath and physical touch as communicative methods of social care (Goetz, Keltner & Simon-Thomas 2010; Van der Kolk 2015), Guillery, Lopes Ramos and Maravala put forward a case for the social role of performers and performance-makers as agents of metaphorical palliative care: generating spaces in which individuals experiencing the effects of collective grief for a social order in ‘catabolic crisis’ (Spagnola 2022) can safely contemplate and process a twenty-first-century sense of an inherently moribund reality from a perspective of co-presence and compassion, given and received. This role arises as a necessity within political systems that allocate minimal value to forms of mutual, interpersonal, psychospiritual and sociocultural care (Kolcaba 2003) despite acute need as these systems themselves collapse.

Through case-study of Goodnight, Sleep Tight, it is also possible to trace derivation of these methods of care within ZU-UK’s work from practices rooted in the makers’ Indian, Zoroastrian, Brazilian and working-class cultural heritages - pertaining to rhythm, collective synchronicity, and performer-bodies as hosts and guides as opposed to objects of consumption. Considered as a response to the disintegration of Western capitalist hegemony, ZU-UK’s work and this article claim the subversive importance of these fundamentally marginalised aesthetic priorities within the current participatory performance landscape.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Special Issue "On Care."
Uncontrolled Keywords: Performance training; VR; interactive performance; liveness; hybrid; palliative care; maternal care; instruction-based; ZU-UK; tambor de mina; system collapse; catabolic crisis; trauma-sensitivity
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2023 08:47

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