Hearing Voices Project


Most recent research indicates that 4% of western people hears voices; however the percentage of people who have had a short or isolated experience thereof in their lifetime is much larger and, in some specificaly targeted research cases (eg. on college students) the numbers reach from 40 to 80%.

Hearing Voices is a project by Marionet, in partnership with MOV (Hearing Voices Movement – Portugal), CES (Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra) and Hospital Júlio de Matos’ Radio Aurora, that intends to deal artistically with the hearing voices phenomena, depicting its significance, sensory perception, changes over time, moments of crisis but also of alternatives, and its place in creating a narrative of the self. We also aim at exploring the ways through which voices can act as important social, cultural and political forces. This project is framed by our activity on the intersection of Theatre and Science, and the exploring of ways to articulate these two fields in the transmission of knowledge.

What is proposed, thus, is the creation and public presentation of a theatre show that can foster reflection on the phenomena, together with several other initiatives aimed at a wider promotion of the theme. We will be applying research-based theatre methodology, interviewing voice hearers and their caretakers, wherefrom we will build the show’s dramaturgy. Aside from that, a sound instalation will be created to simulate the hearing voices experience, roundtables will be held on the theme (1), podcasts will be recorded and promoted together with Radio Aurora, and a set of articles is to be published by the newspaper Público (1; 2). The whole process will be registered on video, with the aim of producing a documentary afterwards. An inquiry is also to be made to the audience of the spectacle so as to evaluate the project’s impact and the effectiveness of an interdisciplinary initiative of this nature.

Concerning social intervention, this project means to foster understanding of the hearing voices phenomena as well as the diversity of ways in which it is understood and experienced, defying stereotypes, fighting stigma and discrimination, and promoting positive responses to related experiences, bolstering consciousness of the variegated ways to deal with confusing or difficult voices, creating safe spaces for sharing and envolving the media in presenting realistic depictions of the hearing voices phenomena and related experiences.

At this moment, on the first stage of creation, we are looking for people who have (or have had) the experience of hearing voices (or friends and family of those who do) and who are willing and available to be interviewed. These interviews will be our starting point for the whole of process of creation and reflection.

The interviews will be made by experienced professionals, and all participants’ anonimity will be safeguarded.

In Partnership with Centro de Estudos Sociais da Universidade de Coimbra (CES); Movimento Ouvir Vozes – Portugal; Rádio Aurora do Hospital Júlio de Matos

Financed by Direção-Geral das Artes under the Partnership Programme  Arte e Saúde Mental (Art and Mental Health).