Drawing on two decades of performance-as-research, the play SKIN and its co-curricular events provoke insights about healing through the arts.
A 20-year study of creativity comes to fruition.
Two decades of research and practice came full circle for writer and performer Hope Singsen this fall when the Mellon-funded Creative Arts Across Disciplines program granted SKIN a residency at Singsen's alma mater, Vassar College.
Singsen’s Vassar senior thesis investigated the discursive and developmental mechanisms within creativity that may enable personal and cultural change. This research then guided her work on the play SKIN, which describes a woman’s struggle to transform herself through relationship, scholarship, and art. For SKIN is a funny and frank queer love story about the power of resilience, creativity and vulnerability to transcend sexual violence.
Singsen’s sustained engagement in developing the play, as well as her documentation of the process—and the dialectical relationship between her research and practice—make SKIN a rare long-term case study of the healing impacts of creativity.
The play’s writing, rehearsal, and performance ran concurrent with Singsen’s own therapeutic work, which also contributes to her research. Most notably, Singsen has studied EMDR, a psychotherapy that blends narrative, somatic, and imaginative practices. Clinical research continues to test EMDR’s neurological mechanisms of action, which Singsen considers against parallel advancements in the neuroscience of medical healing as well as creativity, imagination, learning, memory, and the senses.
By synthesizing her decades of research—academic, artistic, and clinical—Singsen is able to test such findings against her own long-standing practice. SKIN and its co-curricular events offer research universities a unique way to inspire creativity and ignite provocative conversations about the neuroplasticity, resilience, embodied creativity, and healing through the arts.