Transforming trauma into art

Three artists describe how they have transmuted personal pain into what they hope will be theatrical gold.

Trauma, like carbon, can be transformed into something precious with the passage of time. But while diamonds – formed out of carbon by eons of extreme heat and pressure – are incredibly beautiful when cut and polished, transforming traumatic life experiences into art is a far less certain process, and can easily result in something that’s memorable for all the wrong reasons.

In the words of devisor/performer Deborah Pollard, ‘There’s nothing worse than falling into the category of trauma porn.’

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts