CATHEXIS: Innovating Theatre as Event: The Spectator as Researcher

CATHEXIS: Innovating Theatre as Event: The Spectator as Researcher


Project Leader: Nick Millett Associates FR
Atelier Theatre JeanVilar BE
Elapse FR
Fondacija Centar za zastupanje gradjanskih interesa BA
Heartefact Fund RS
Universiteit Utrecht NL
Maximum Grant Awarded: 197.721,13 €

Cathexis proposes to explore a two-pronged strategy for the development of theatre audiences: the invention of a new form of performing arts participatory event which (1) is more engaging because more relevant & intense, and (2) addresses new professional audiences by also functioning as fundamental social research. Cathexis will extend the audience engagement into a community of enquiry, enabling the spectator to become social researcher and creative collaborator.

The project will build & test a prototype application of this innovative theatre-research apparatus. Cathexis 1: Truth on Trial will empower the public to explore the theme of Truth in all its dimensions, but especially as it relates to current technological change, media democracy and the institution of Justice. The conceptual framework of the event is the “mise en situation” of the audience as judge and jury in a tribunal of the future where technology plays a central role in determining the guilt of the accused. The behavior of all the participants in the event will be recorded, analyzed and stored publicly online. Three subsequent workshops will use creative facilitation techniques to dig deeper into the subject and produce a collective creative expression.

Cathexis will be a six phase process (Research, Design, Audience Development/Communication, Build, Run, Report) involving a multidisciplinary and cross-cultural team collaborating in a series of residencies across Europe and testing the prototype event in two locations. Each residency will include a workshop with members of the public in the spirit of Open Innovation. The partnership spans Europe from the North West to the South East, seeking intercultural exchange to catalyze creativity and to intensify the social impact, relevance and reach of the project. As a result, our results will have comparative value and proof of concept will have trans-European validity, demonstrating the need today for theatre’s core competence of behavioral expertise.