Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, to rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it and change it as times change, truly are powerless because they cannot think new thoughts.

Salman Rushdie

The Theatre of the Self was published in 2021 as a box set of five A6 books containing art performance documentation book with 4 themed mental health diaries:

Little Book of Smoke and mirrors

The Body Book

The Little Black Book of Catharsis (complete with a handy match)

The Golden Notebook 

The green Theatre of the Self documentation book is accessibly edited down to one short page per year. It contains thirty A6 pages.

Each page corresponds to one of thirty personal diaries (1977-2010) with the date of the performance reading, 3 documentation photos, a single short diary entry, and a few notes that mingle personal and theoretical material.

It aims to introduce some of the project themes, research and ideas, illustrating how reading the Self can create different kinds of knowledge as we continually re-inscribe, and overlay meaning from where we are now.

The last page of the documentation book shows how the project was extended from its original score (1977-2007) right up to 2010-11.

This small book had the impossible aim of summarising 30 years of diary writing, 30 days of reading, editing and burning in 2017 and 3 years (2017-20) of writing up the project. The primary aim of this very condensed project is to make the its ideas about re-writing our stories, and writing for mental health accessible to everyone.

Reading and burning diaries isn’t for everyone but it can be a way of dealing with stories you don’t want to keep, or leave behind. It can be a cathartic process of revisiting past Selves and understanding them from where you are now.

Watch a film of Delpha talking about the project

There are four additional A6 colour coded mental health diaries in the box set which follow a theme from project research. They each have a few suggestions of ways to re-think and re-organise perceptions of Self, with space to write despite being small emough to carry them round in a pocket.

display inside mental health diaries

Little Book of Smoke and mirrors 

Mirrors are used as emblematic concepts in this book to discover new ways to see ourselves in addition to learning to recognise ways in which we hide, distort and change who we think we are. We often trick ourselves with illusions about ourselves. Gazing in a mirror we imagine a coherent, unified individual self, yet we are of course multiple, contradictory and constantly changing and evolving.

This book encourages us to enjoy some creative time in our heads, create versions of our selves and be our stories. Turn life in on itself and be whatever you want to be.  The consolation of narrative psychology is that we are the story we tell ourselves and that we can create what that story is.

display inside mental health diaries

The body book helps to explore ways of looking after our body and re-synching with our minds. Making a bridge between our minds and bodies helps us to be ‘present’ – and bring our body stories and inner experiences together. 

Sadly there wasn’t space to include more performance art theory yet there is a rich vein of ideas about how we might tune into our stories in relationship to our bodies.

display inside mental health diaries

The Little Black Book of Catharsis – complete with handy match on the spine

The meaning of catharsis is ‘cleansing’ in Greek, and refers to a literary theory first developed by Aristotle, who believed that cleansing our emotions was the purpose of a good story.The purpose of this book is to write down stories you don’t want to keep, light the match (somewhere safe) and watch it burn.

display inside mental health diaries

The Golden Notebook is about being the author of your own life, the creator of your own possibilities.

It’s about our best and happiest selves – and about becoming your best authentic self. Recognising that you are many people, and have the potential to be who ever you want is part of recognising and collecting all of our best stories and putting all of them together.

Watch a film about inside the books

Edited by Dr. Davina Kirkpatrick and printed by Marc Clemens, Headland Printers, Penzance, the project is funded and supported by Cultivator and Arts Council funding. All books have now sold but do get in touch if you would like more information.