BWW Feature: MONDIBLANC ACTING LAB Seeks to Explore Mental Health through the Performing Arts in PROJECT BULB
An intriguing social media post made its round around Indonesian theatre circles on the first week of March: Mondiblanc Acting Lab was looking for associate researchers for a research on acting and mental health. Specifically, the lab was looking for actors who have been in at least 5 theatrical or cinematic works.
Mondiblanc Acting Lab is an expansion of Mondi Blanc Film Workshop, a screen acting class. In January of 2019, Mondiblanc had performed DAN MAJU LAGI! ('Onward!'), an immersive play performed at a café.
To learn more about this project, we corresponded with the project leader and initiator, Annisa Putri Ayudya. Putri is known her acting experience both on screen and on the stage, with multiple acting nominations under her belt.
She introduced the project, officially called Project Bulb, as a semi-academic research involving practitioners of the performing arts.
Six selected actors will act as junior researchers - called collaboactors - and go on a creative process to discover and embody the characters from a short play written by Putri Ayudya. The script is meant as a starting point and the collaboactors are expected to continuously develop their chosen character beyond what's written on the book, even up to writing a script to showcase their understanding of the character.
There are three characters in the play, and In the first phase of the research, each character will be explored by two collaboactors at the same time. Then for the second phase, only one collaboactor for each character will be chosen for the public performance.
Throughout the process, each collaboactor must also report the effect of the process have on their psyche using the app Daylio. The report also includes a psychological measurement is adapted from the Keyes Mental Health Model as elaborated on a thesis by Sahutari (2017). There will be a weekly journal collected from all the collaboactors, researchers, and researcher supervisors.
The Bulb Project was born out of Putri Ayudya's concern regarding performing arts. She observed that the field of performing arts remains a dark and unlit path in Indonesia. Those hoping to be professional performing artists, even those lucky enough to come with formal education, still saunter blindly; there's no discernible career path for them to take.
Thusly, Putri hopes the research will light the way for thespians. The research seeks to prove the positive impact of performing arts can make, not only to those already involved in theater but also society at large.
Working alongside Putri, the Project Bulb team is composed of Mondiblanc Acting Lab members and graduates, including Nosa Nurmanda (Executive Producer), Fizal Aji Pratama (Director), Amanda Gondowijoyo (Assistant Director), Julfikar Maha Putra (Head of Production), Febri Sastiviani Putri Cantika and Desy Amalia Yusri (Research Supervisors). The team is so far collaborating with ISI Jogja's AkuAktor (led by Muhammad Banyu Bening), Huma Rumil (patronized by Ine Febrianti), and Prabhu Curry House.
The project has several objectives. First and most importantly is greater awareness towards the connection between the performing arts and mental health. Then, the project seeks to provide a breakthrough discourse on performing arts and human psychology; proof the benefit of performing art provides for personal growth; and finally, the project hopes to introduce Mondiblanc Acting Lab to the public.
Regarding the connection between acting and mental health as the base of this project, team members of Project Bulb chimed in:
"Absolutely anyone can study performing arts if they put their heart into it. The performing arts don't discriminate on one's physical appearance or educational background. Performing arts involve more than acting, but also other skills like singing, dancing, or anything else as required to portray our character's profession. And that can provide performing artists with skills they actually need to survive in life." - Felicia Michellin, designer
"Performing arts can explore the topic of mental health; the involved artists would then be able to share their experience visually through their performance." - Amanda Gondowijoyo, assistant director.
"Through acting, one can get to experience what the character goes through. Someone's mental condition oftentimes cannot be properly conveyed through mere words. Acting can be a good way to understand someone's mental state." -Julfikar Maha Putra, head of production.
"Performing arts on one hand can a cathartic outlet for people whose mind space is cluttered. Channeling one's thoughts through the wide spectrum of performing arts enable us to explore different emotions. On the other hand, performing arts can be a form of shock therapy for us to experience those emotions that are difficult to face as our usual self. There are always two sides to everything." - Desy Amalia Yusri, research supervisor.
"I believe in 'acting for living'. That is what we do too. Everybody must be able to play the right role in our life depending on the place and time. That's how we can achieve prime mind condition." - Putri Ayudya, project leader.
To follow Project Bulb and their research, follow Mondiblanc's Instagram at mondiblancactinglab. Disclaimer: Project Bulb is a work in progress and both the process and end result may vary from the information in this interview.
Photos by Project Bulb.