How does a play further human health? Interview with Head of Theatre & Performance Jane Montgomery-Griffiths

Associate Professor Jane Montgomery Griffiths is driving a new research project, funded by the Monash/Warwick Alliance, to investigate the creation of empathy in the audience through theatrical depictions of trauma.

The research arises from her Green Room Outstanding Performer Award winning performance in the Pulitzer prize winning play ‘Wit’ last year. She took on the role of the brilliant professor Vivienne dying of cancer. Adapted to film and played on stages worldwide, it was the first professional production of the work in Australia, which received rave reviews, full house audiences and standing ovations – a rare trilogy in Australia.

But it was the incredibly emotional response the play received, together with its significance for a wide range of cancer survivors and carers, that established the need for further research to understand the phenomenon of its effect and its potential for furthering humanity, our empathy and human health.

We spoke with Associate Professor Montgomery Griffiths on her experience taking on the lead character in ‘Wit’ and the potential of contemporary tragedy in theatre today.