Dr Rebecca Caines

I believe in interdisciplinary collaboration, innovative creation, critical thought, and community connection. In these things I find hope.

We’re all Living in our Imaginations’:
Exploring the FASD Experience through Improvised Expression (2016- ongoing)

This Inter-Arts, Artist and Community Collaboration project explores the artistic potential within the experience of living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), with a focus on interdisciplinary improvised performance. It is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation SSHRC Partnership, CanFASD Network, and the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance at the University of Regina; and by a series of community partners including the FASD Network (Saskatoon), Regina Community Clinic, and Phoenix Residential Society. There is a connected research project with the University of Regina and CanFASD. You can see outcomes from the research portion at https://fasdresearchproject.com/

FASD is a cognitive disability, is often framed as a deficit. This project starts with the premise that people living with FASD are the experts on FASD, and hold artistic and imaginative potential to harness unique improvisation skills such as impulse, imaginative narrative, and spontaneity.

This exploration brings together professional improvising artists (theatre and sound art/Inter-Arts) with community participants in two FASD programs in Saskatchewan, one in Saskatoon, the other in Regina. The project has been co-developed by researcher, Dr. Michelle Stewart, who is an applied anthropologist, whose work focuses on FASD. We are also working with a music therapist and an Indigenous health and community education consultant who collaborated on a previous project with Caines and who are experts in supportive creativity in health settings; as well as FASD-trained support staff working at community locations. Through a series of workshops the professional and community participants from the support groups are exploring a range of themes together, that arise from the lived experience of FASD including: confabulation (filling in gaps in memory with storytelling), perseverance (fixation on a point), and impulse and memory differences (including a varied relationship between cause and effect). Inter-Arts practices are utilized, bringing together existing techniques (improvised theatre games, storytelling, movement practices, free improvised music using electronic devices, meditative craft activities such as traditional First Nations beadmaking, cooking). We are also seeing if we can develop new techniques that merge artistic practices in ways that most suit this collaborative group. The project has artistic and research outcomes, including workshops and performances, new tools for communities, and research publications and presentations.