The day I finished my PhD (Van Rosmalen, 2016) something strange happened. I started to make drawings. Originally being an improvising cellist and theatre director, making drawings is not my primary professional activity…. But I couldn’t stop.

Hesitantly, because of being unskilled, I showed a few drawings to the theatre-writer Anouk Saleming with whom I collaborate in a research group at HKU. As a response she wrote back a poetic theatre text. This meant a lot. Reading that text gave me a new understanding of the drawing. Together the drawing and text meant much more than separate. This sharing and co-creation worked as a strong catalyst to continue. An intensive correspondence started, continuously exchanging drawings and texts. Almost all of that was done after 10.00 pm in the night or in the weekend. I experienced a very strong creative urge to do it but was it ‘work’ in the usual sense? There was no purpose, no money, no target, no client involved and I went in a sense ‘off track’ being uneducated in what I was doing. The time I spent at it felt as stolen time. After some 50-60 works, still unstoppable, Saleming and I started to make music and theatre out of it. That was a serious moment to I ask myself ‘what the hell are we doing’, ‘where is this actually going’? Asking that question I suddenly remembered an unfinished chapter about the topic ‘ecstasy’ that didn’t make it in the final version of my book: ecstasy understood as being taken away through aesthetic experience and play, go with the flow and facing and embracing the irrational and the unknown. That remembrance gave me a clarifying insight: it felt as if I was still ‘in’ that chapter researching the topic ‘ecstasy’! But not longer in words, not longer isolated on myself and not longer in the demanding framework of a PhD but in co-creation and in an interdisciplinary artistic mode of finding connections between drawings, text, music, theatre and movement. I reread the unfinished chapter about ecstasy with new understanding. It explores Martha Nussbaums notions of Plato’s Phaedrus where he writes about being taken away in mania. And it is about the myth of Perseus and his battle with the monstrous Medusa explained by the Italian writer Italo Calvino in his essay lightness. Finally it is about the myth of Orpheus and his tragic quest to get his beloved Euridycee back from the underworld. The perspective of this material deepens the layers and the meaning of our music-theatre performance-research about ecstasy that is growing step by step. Now after an ecstatic half year we are ready to share the working process and parts of the performance at the conference as a presentation of what I’d like to call ‘performative research’. In the second part of our presentation Nirav Christophe will use this living example to reflect on polyphony of voices in creativity.

1- Bart van Rosmalen (2016): The return of the muses, public values in professional practices, Utrecht, Uitgeverij IJzer
2- Nussbaum, M. (1992) Love’s Knowledge, Essays on Philosophy and Literature, Oxford University Press
3- Calvino, I. (1988), Six Memo’s for the Next Millenium, Harvard University Press.