MADELINE MCNEILL 

I create space for artists and audiences to explore the philosophical idea that humans are bodies~that we experience and interpret the world as bodies and therefore our sense of self is an embodied existence. 

We live in a world that would have us believe we are something other than a body. A soul in a body. A brain in a body. The body becoming a mechanized object in our self-perception and therefore subject to manipulation by an industrialized society that benefits from body abuse and detachment.

 

If we change our self-perception to one of embodiment, our values and goals for how to live can dramatically shift. What are the needs of being a body? What are the limits? How can we work within the parameters of flesh to construct a society and culture that works well for the benefit of bodies?

This is my work. Communicating a concept of self that is fully embodied, that can create foundations for imagining a body based society.   

THE SHORT STORY

I started college in pre-med, but along the way, disillusionment with the medical system made me rethink my choice. I explored alternative medicine and spiritualities, fascinated but still not convinced. Having completed three years of college, I wasn't sure what to do, so I decided to take a year off. I did a little traveling and after some thought, decided to come back to school in music. I never studied voice prior, but I knew it was something I would regret if I didn't try. I hustled myself an audition and was accepted into the music department at Western Washington University. The director assigned me a voice teacher and I soon fell in love with voice training, particularly the discipline of opera.

Despite a tense voice accumulated from years of physical and emotional strain, I improved with dedicated practice and graduated three years later. Passionate to master operatic technique, I continued to study as well as make lifestyle changes to balance myself including changing my diet and undergoing an intense self-massage overhaul which lasted five months. The muscles I massaged included abdominal, back, chest, neck, jaw, and face muscles. I also creatively applied techniques of meditation, yoga, and Body Mapping to further develop my voice. With these changes, it was soon after that my voice leapt to improvement. But there was also an unexpected effect: I began having ideas...epiphanies really. I always enjoyed asking deeper questions and searching out answers, but this was different. I was imagining ideas I'd never heard anywhere else, self-generating thoughts based on interdisciplinary thinking and years of dedicated work. The ideas elated me at first, but after experiencing several new ideas every day for months, I became extremely overwhelmed. I went into a deep depression. My old ways of thinking broke down and I struggled to build a new foundation of thought.

 

I experienced my first epiphany over ten years ago. I have since emerged from the depression and created a basic infrastructure for a comprehensive theory which defines core muscles as active and sensory components of human experience. I wrote a book entitled, "Is There a Soul?" I also created a talk "Body Consciousness." With the groundwork built, I passionately create art-performance to communicate my theories and am now creating original stories through my company Embody Theater to engage audiences and artists in current events from a body based perspective. 

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