"Utopia has nothing to do with the future. Utopia is now. The act of making theatre is already utopian because art is an act of resistance against circumstances. If you are making theatre now, you have already successfully achieved utopia."


Anne Bogart, A Director Prepares


Visual Theatre and Trauma

Vertebra Theatre's artistic practice is strongly embedded and derived from current research in the fields of Performing Arts and Arts In Health.

The Lead Artist of the company, Mayra Stergiou is currently undertaking a research project at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in partnership with CNWL NHS Trust that explores the integration of dramatherapy processes with avant-garde theatre practices (ex. Embodied Dramaturgy of Thomas Prattki, the physical theatre of J. Lecoq and the Method of Theodoros Terzopoulos) that are rarely employed in a therapeutic context and vice versa. The project aims to play an integrative role within the medical humanities with an emphasis on ‘mutual recovery’ – and the capacity of participatory practices to transcend binary categories of ‘healer’ - ‘patient’ and artist - community. The project aims to address issues critical to the implementation of an innovative way to develop, transform and enrich community growth in the health care sector (specifically the Grenfell Community) in order to enhance patient quality of life and to reduce recovery times. The project also aims to utilise dramatherapy practice towards developing more authentic and integral form of contemporary Visual Theatre, engage the audience with the non medical gaze of PTSD and raise public awareness in the wider community. 

The project will result into final performances in 2022. 


Dr Alex Mermikides

Alex Mermikides directs the unique doctoral programmes at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, which has a distinctive focus on research in, through and for the performing arts. Her own research also bridges scholarship and practice, the latter as a director, dramaturg and playwright. She has published on contemporary theatre-making (particularly devised and interdisciplinary performance) and the interface between theatre and medicine in the UK. Her edited books include Devising in Process (Palgrave 2010).​ Her current project Careful, developed with support from the Arts Council, explores themes of compassion, care and empathy through the perspective of nurses. Her work has been featured in The Guardian, Times Higher Educational Supplement and on This Week (BBC Radio 4).


Professor Dominik Havsteen-Franklin

Dominik Havsteen-Franklin is a Professor of Practice (Arts Therapies) at Brunel University, with a Ph.D. in Art Psychotherapy and Metaphor. He is also head of the International Centre for Arts Psychotherapies Training (ICAPT) for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Vice President for the European Federation of Art Therapy and a member of the Council for the British Association of Art Therapists. His research focuses on applying empirical methods to investigating and evaluating the use of arts to facilitate changes in health conditions. His recent research has centred on co-designing and investigating Arts-based Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (ADIT) for depression, Creative and Resilience Engagement (CaRE) for frontline healthcare workers, developing arts-based psychosocial practice in South Africa, and is a co-applicant for an NIHR funded large scale RCT (ERA) investigating the effectiveness of arts therapies for heterogenous groups in mental health services. Dominik supervises PhD students from a range of arts disciplines. He also continues to work as a consultant, an art psychotherapist and a clinical supervisor for the National Health Service.