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"Utopia has nothing to do with the future. Utopia is now. The act of making theatre is already utopian because art is an act of resistance against circumstances. If you are making theatre now, you have already successfully achieved utopia."


Anne Bogart, A Director Prepares


Embodied Materiality in Autobiographical Performance:

Performing and Staging the lived experience of trauma through a scenographic practice

Vertebra Theatre's artistic practice is strongly embedded and derived from current research in the fields of Trauma Inform Practice in

Performing Arts. 

The Lead Artist of the company, Mayra Stergiou has undertaken a research project at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in partnership with CNWL NHS Trust that explores the social impact of expanded scenography and the integration of dramatherapy processes with avant-garde theatre practices (ex. Embodied Dramaturgy of Thomas Prattki and the Method of Theodoros Terzopoulos) that are rarely employed in a therapeutic context and vice versa. The project resulted into a series of performances in 2022-2023. This has inlcuded the experimental digital performance 'An Ice Thing to Say' and Electra: Untitled.


Professor Dominik Havsteen-Franklin

Dominik Havsteen-Franklin is a Professor of Practice (Arts Therapies) at Brunel University, with a Ph.D. in Art Psychotherapy and Metaphor. He is also head of the International Centre for Arts Psychotherapies Training (ICAPT) for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Vice President for the European Federation of Art Therapy and a member of the Council for the British Association of Art Therapists. His research focuses on applying empirical methods to investigating and evaluating the use of arts to facilitate changes in health conditions. His recent research has centred on co-designing and investigating Arts-based Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (ADIT) for depression, Creative and Resilience Engagement (CaRE) for frontline healthcare workers, developing arts-based psychosocial practice in South Africa, and is a co-applicant for an NIHR funded large scale RCT (ERA) investigating the effectiveness of arts therapies for heterogenous groups in mental health services. Dominik supervises PhD students from a range of arts disciplines. He also continues to work as a consultant, an art psychotherapist and a clinical supervisor for the National Health Service.  

Dr Simon Donger

I am a scenographer and researcher who trained in sculpture and scenography in Canada and the UK. My practical research explores provocative yet mindful intersections of materials, media and bodies. I have published texts and books concerned with Posthuman critiques of Humanism. I joined Central in 2005. In 2010, I co-created the MA/MFA Scenography at Central School of Speech and Drama with Joanna Parker and became its Course Leader in 2012. My practice is deeply influenced by my experience of working with the Italian company Societas Raffaello Sanzio in 2004 for the entire process of creation of their performance Tragedia Endogonidia. In 2016, I was awarded a Golden Mask Best Light for Musical Theatre for the lighting and projection design of the Bolshoi Ballet’s Hero of Our Time. 

Polly Teale

Polly Teale was Artistic Director of theatre company Shared Experience, with productions she wrote and directed regularly transferring to the West End and touring internationally. These included the award winning trilogy: Bronte; Jane Eyre and After Mrs Rochester (winner Best Director Evening Standard Awards, and Time Out Best West End Production). She also wrote and directed Mine, Speechless and Mermaid as well as directing productions in the West End, at the Royal Court, National Theatre, Traverse and Young Vic. Her plays continue to be performed nationally and internationally and are available from Nick Hern books. Her work is on the school syllabus. Polly has an MA in Arts Psychotherapy from the Institute for the Arts in Therapy and Education (Distinction). She works in drama schools and believes that psychological understanding can deeply enrich the student's practice, as well as supporting creative freedom, personal growth, and resilience. Her work encourages students to value difference by becoming curious about how we are shaped by our own history, culture and by bigger systems. This empathic understanding is brought to the rehearsal process encouraging psychologically informed, deeply embodied character exploration.

Dr. Alex Mermikides (Year 1 and 2) 

Alex is the D'Oyly Carte Senior Lecturer in Arts and Health, based in the GKT School of Medical Education. The D'Oyly Carte position aims to enhance encounters between patients and healthcare professionals through embedding arts and humanities in medical education. Alex contributes to teaching and curriculum development in the Values-Based Clinical Practice theme of the medical degree programme. Alex's research interest is in contemporary performance and how it relates to medicine. Her recent publications include Performance and the Medical Body (co-edited with Gianna Bouchard) and Performance, Medicine and the Human and she is currently working on the Routledge Companion for Performance and Medicine. Her research also involves devising performances about medical experience with her theatre company, Chimera, as well as developing performance-based approaches to communication skills education. Her work has featured in The Guardian, Times Higher Educational Supplement, Nature Immunology and on This Week (BBC Radio 4).

Artistic Mentors:

Theodoros Terzopoulos

Theodoros Terzopoulos (born 1945, Greece) attending the Kostis Michailidis Drama School in Athens (1965–1967) before going on to study and work as assistant director at Berliner Ensemble (1972–1976). Back in Greece, he became Director of the Drama School of the State Theatre of Northern Greece in Thessaloniki (1981–1983). He created Attis Theatre in Delphi in 1985.Terzopoulos has directed tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, as well as contemporary plays by leading European playwrights. He has directed at many international theatres, participated in numerous international festivals and collaborated with prominent actors from all over the world.Over the past 30 years, Terzopoulos and Attis Theatre have presented almost 2000 performances at leading international theatre festivals in Greece and abroad. Terzopoulos’ method and approach to ancient Greek tragedy is taught at drama academies, schools and classical studies departments around the world. The director gives workshops and lectures all over the world and is Professor Emeritus of numerous international academies and universities. He is the recipient of numerous Greek and international theatre awards. Books on his working method have been translated and published in Greek, English, German, Turkish, Russian, Chinese and Polish. As Artistic Director of the International Meeting of Ancient Drama in Delphi (1985–1988), Terzopoulos invited many leading figures of the international theatre scene. He is a founding member of the International Institute of Mediterranean Theatre (since 1991). In 2004, he created the International Meeting of Ancient Drama in the Municipality of Sykion and was its Artistic Director till 2011.

Savvas Stroumpos

Savvas Stroumpos (born 1979, Greece) in 2002 graduated from the drama school of the National Theatre of Greece. In 2003 he received an MA in Theatre Practice from the University of Exeter, UK. From 2003 he worked as an actor in Attis Theatre and assistant to director Theodoros Terzopoulos. With Attis Theatre he performed in Hamlet: A Lesson by Boris Pasternak, Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, Ohio Impromptu by Samuel Beckett, Ajax the Madness by Sophocles (two versions), The Last Mask by Costas Logaras and Cassandra by Marios Pontikas. With Zero Point Theatre Group he has directed In the Penal Colony (two versions) and Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; As You like It by Shakespeare; The Justs by Albert Camus, Document, an adaptation of texts by Samuel Beckett, Primo Levi and Subcomandante Marcos; and Woyzeck by Georg Büchner, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin and The Mission by Heiner Müller in 2016.

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