Stanislavsky-based American acting education through the lens of trauma-informed practices
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[EMBARGOED UNTIL 12/1/2023] This dissertation seeks to merge the research of theatre, neuropsychology, and trauma studies in order to examine the ethics of past and contemporary Stanislavsky-based American actor training and the potential traumatization of its student actors. This dissertation focuses on the creation and release of character -- the processes of emotional development and cooldown -- through a traumainformed lens. This dissertation had two consecutive goals: (1) to demonstrate how trauma has become deeply enmeshed in acting's traditions, expectations, and creation, and then (2) to provide workable trauma-aware teaching methods for teachers to integrate into their pedagogy with the goal of creating a safer space for acting students. The methodology includes the utilization of a mixed methods research design that combines quantitative data from psychiatric research with qualitative data through feedback from actors via qualitative studies, interviews, dissertations, etc., followed by a self-reflexive teacher-as-researcher action research study that centered on my pedagogical practices' implementation and success. The conclusion was that we cannot, in fact, "leave it all at the door." It is not biologically and neurologically possible. Trauma lives in the body and does not turn off when it is convenient. And with the years of increasingly intense national and global traumas, students' resilience is more strained than ever. Both the fields of psychology and theatre believe that more mental health resources must be presented and shared with actors and the "acting world," as actors have been shown to be unlikely to seek out help independently. Researchers suggested that training institutions, companies, unions, and industry stakeholders to enact strategies to reduce harm in the industry and provide tools to foster resilience on both an industry- and individual-basis, including warm-up, cooldown, and debriefing practices. This paper provides tools for teachers to incorporate trauma-informed practices into the acting classroom as well as trauma-aware proposals for organizational change at the system level of higher education.