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Ruth Levin-Vorster-Relationship Facilitator

Ruth Levin-Vorster is a PhD Candidate in Neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry & Mental Health at the University of Cape Town. Her PhD is in social neuroscience where she is measuring a Theatre-Based Relational Health intervention designed to improve self-awareness in stressful relationships and to bring emotions into balance with compassion.

After being a theatre director (MA in Theatre and Performance, Faculty of Humanities, UCT) and educator in London and South Africa for 15 years, working with the top British and South African institutions, as well as mounting her own productions, she began to take adapted actor training and character development processes into the public and corporate realm to cultivate self-awareness, empathy and connection within individuals and teams.

During this period, Ruth completed several continued professional education courses in neuroscience, mindfulness and social psychology and qualified an Accredited Mediator (UCT@Law) in 2016.

As her research progressed, she began to formulate ideas about social cohesion and presented at conferences in South Africa and Switzerland. In 2016, In response to the social climate in South Africa, Ruth developed a 6 week-program to improve self-awareness of one’s reactivity in stressful relationships and to bring emotions into balance with compassion. This combination of practice and research led Ruth to secure a position in the Translational Neuroscience Unit within the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, where she formulated her PhD. Ruth is the recipient of the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Studentship for 2019/20120.  In addition to her PhD, Ruth is facilitator for relational health.

2018 – current PhD Candidate in Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry & Mental Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT
2004 – 2006 MA Theatre and Performance. Dissertation with distinction, Department/Faculty, UCT
1993 – 1996 Drama Centre London, 3 year Acting Diploma

Continued Professional Educational Courses
2019 Three part Neuroanatomy Short course with Dr. Coenie Hattingh
2016 Certification as an Accredited Mediator in commercial and non-commercial disputes, Faculty of Law, Continued
Education, University of Cape Town – UCT@Law
2016 Certification in MESA 178, The Latest Neuroscience Applied from Neuroplasticity to Neural Integration of the Mindsight Institute’s Online Curriculum of Interpersonal Neurobiology on the science of the mind and brain and their impact on the biology of behaviour and human relationships, Professor of Psychiatry, Daniel Siegal, Mindsight Institute, USA
2016 Living Brave Semester – Research Professor Brene Brown (University of Houston) – online 12 week course,
research-based practical application of working with the social emotions – vulnerability, empathy, shame and courage.
2015 Positive Psychology -Professor Barbara Fredrickson, University of North Carolina, Coursera – 6-week online course
understanding the scientific ‘broaden and build’ theory behind building positive emotions and their role in combatting
the ‘negativity-bias’ and promoting resilience.
2015 Mindfulness Meditation, Faculty of Law, Continued Education, University of Cape Town, UCT@Law – 8 weeks of 2 hr sessions plus one full day retreat session understanding and practicing the principles of mindfulness meditation, with certification

2022 Mind&Life European Summer Research Institute, Italy. Scholarship to attend
2021 Mind&Life Online Speaker Series – Scholarship to attend
2019/2020 Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Award, Doctoral Scholarship
2020 Contemplative Research Conference, Scholarship to attend and present poster
2019 Mind&Life Europe, Contemplative Science Symposium Financial Support
2018 Post Graduate Research Training Grant (FRC Award 2018), the Faculty of Health Sciences Faculty Research Committee, UCT. 2018 South African Neuroscience Society – Conference Attendance Grant
2011-2012 1-year full-time Fellowship with the University of Cape Town & Gordon Institute of Performing Arts (GIPCA) to pursue inter-disciplinary and collaborative research within the university research community.
2004 Rosalie van der Gught Award in support of MA Theatre & Performance, University of Cape Town
2000 Royal National theatre Directing Course, selected nationwide in the UK for 4 weeks lectures & workshops.

2020 Reviewer for – Brennan McDonald et al, 2020, Could Acting Training Improve Social Cognition and Emotional Control?

Conference Presentations
2020 Contemplative Research Conference, Poster Presentation, Levin-Vorster, R, Cunningham, N, Marais, A, Howells, FM.
2019 Contemplative Science Symposium, Beyond Confines – integrating Science, Consciousness and Society, Poster Presentation, Levin-Vorster, R, Cunningham, N, Marais, A, Howells FM.
2019 Mind&Life Summer Research Institute, participant and co-presenter with Lucy-Drake Clarke on Think Tank findings for grantees
2019 Engaged Scholarship Programme, University of Cape Town, selected participant
2018, the first Conference on Biomedical and Natural Sciences and Therapeutics (CoBNEST), Oral Presentation,
Levin-Vorster, R, Howells FM, (2018).
2017 Empathies,11th SLSAeu Conference – European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts, Switzerland, Oral presentation, Session Chair and participant in PhD Workshop, Levin-Vorster, (2017).
2016 The South African Communications Association (SACOMM), University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, Oral Presentation, Levin-Vorster (2016).
2011 UCT School of Dance, Confluences, Oral Presentation, Workshop Facilitator, Session Chair, Levin-Vorster, (2011).
2011 – June, public presentation on fellowship research. September, Symposium, GIPCA, UCT, oral presentation and session chair.

Think Tank, Invited Speaker, Guest lecturer, Mentor, External Examiner, Public talks: 2020 – 2017
2020 Partners for Possibilities programme, “Conversations in my Kitchen” series on Well-Being,
2019 – Institute of Justice & Reconciliation (IJR), Limmud Cape Town
2019 – Mentor on Allan Gray Mentorship Programme,
2019  Brain Awareness Week, co-organizer of a South African Neuroscience Society initiative to promote school learner’s interest in Neuroscience.
2019. Invited neuroscientist for mind & Life Think Tank on African Contemplative Practices for curriculum and global stage.
2018. Guest lecturer for the Honours Psychology Brain-Behaviour seminar series at Stellenbosch University.
2017 Human Biology Expo, UCT, helped to develop the exhibit and questions & co-hosted the stand.
2017  Invited Speaker, Medical Humanities lecture series: The intersection of theatre, empathy and healing
2017  Invited Speaker, Herzlia Staff Inspiration Day, Empathy – the space between.
2017- 2018 training for mediation course, UCT@Law, Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town.

2021 Nov to current Private Practice
2021 7 groups through the Theatre-Based Relational Health intervention for PhD
2021 3 groups through Breathing only Intervention for PhD
2020  Pilot of Theatre-Based Relational Health intervention online
2019  Pilot of Theatre-Based Relational Health intervention
2019  Individual clients

Corporate Facilitation
2015 SAICA – Self-Awareness and Empathy 4hr workshop, perspective taking exercises, self and others, connecting with different communication styles
2014  PROMEAL – Building Trust – 4hr workshop, breathing intervention and perspective taking exercises
2014  ADDIDAS – Communication Skills (on behalf of Speak Easy Facilitators), and breathing intervention
2013  CAPE UNION MART – Conflict resolution with customers (on behalf of Speak Easy Facilitators)
2013 Private sessions for Director of Speak Easy Facilitators – helping her to extend and innovate her
programmes and manage difficult participants
2012 SASFIN CAPE TOWN – team dynamics (on behalf of Speak Easy Facilitators) developed
programme, 3, 2.5hr sessions to entrain self-awareness and connection with those different to oneself.
2008/9 Private practice: Creative Bodywork: a body-mind approach to emotional health. working with a breathing intervention, guided imagery, mapping and shifting relationship dynamics.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Teaching and Professional Training
South Africa
2013 Magnet Theatre Training Programme. Role: teaching classical text and directing final year students in their scene work for performance, 3.5 weeks, 3x 2hour sessions per week
2013 Screen Act Studio. Role: teaching – voice and character development for emerging professional actors, 6 weeks, 3x2hour sessions per week
2011 UCT School of Dance – improvisation and choreography classes, 2x per week for two terms
2010 ACT Cape Town Character Creation Course – teaching and examination – 45 hours over 2 months
2010 ACT Cape Town Developed and wrote the Character Creation syllabus and examination for their curriculum. Trained teacher in the course material.
2007-2010 Private Acting Coaching, prepared professional actors for auditions, theatre productions and film work.
2007 Act Cape Town Directed Showcase – 8 weeks, 3hrs twice a week and showcase, chose scripts for actors, worked on the character and relational dynamics and directed the scenes for the showcase.
2007 City Varsity – taught playmaking and created public performance for St Georges Mall
2007 SA Colledge of Music, University of Cape Town – movement analysis and character creation – 1 term
2005 UCT, Department of Drama – Acting and design concept
2005/4 UCT, Department of Drama, honours drama students consulted with me on their work
2004 UCT, SA Colledge of Music – movement analysis and character development
2004/3 Magnet Theatre – Ran outreach programme in Khayelitsha, twice a week for 3 hours, 3 months and prepared community performance
2004 Stellenbosch University – taught character analysis for 3rd years
2004 UCT, Department of Drama directing Brecht practical scenes demonstrating Brechtian style, theory and design
2003-2004 UCT, Department of Drama – designed and teaching 1st year physical theatre program, twice weekly for a year, prepared the examination and co-examined the students
2003 Stellenbosch University, Department of Drama– teaching 1st year physical theatre and character work
2003 Stellenbosch University, Department of Drama – directing 3rd year pantomime production of Romeo & Juliet
2003 CAP (Community Arts Project) – taught storytelling & physical theatre
2002 UCT – Tutored and directed Shakespeare scenes for Performer 2 students and prepared scenes for examination, co-examined.

2002 Italia Conti Academy, Acting training for summer school, London, UK
2002 The Actors Centre London, Physical Theatre workshops for professionals, London, UK.
2001 Oxford School of Drama – Stanford University Summer School, Acting 1(14-15 years), Acting 2 (16-19yrs); Shakespeare for Stanford University Course Credit (18-26yrs), Oxford, UK.
1998/1999 Developed and ran workshops for professional actors on devising physical theatre , London, UK
1998 The Bull, Barnet – Directed Grotowski workshop, London, UK
1997/1998 Ran weekly workshops for actors on physical theatre and text exploration, London, UK

Theatre Director, Writer, Choreographer, Producer and Performance Artist
Director – as a theatre director I was responsible for the conceptual vision of the play, casting the play, building an ensemble with the cast, scene analysis and text interpretation, character development, relationship dynamics, spatial dynamics, selecting and collaborating with the set, costume and lighting designers, selecting sound elements and mounting the production into the theatre.
Producer – when working simultaneously as a producer, I was responsible for engaging the theatre, raising funds, engaging the media – press releases, interviews, marketing
Writer, Co-Writer, Dramaturg – as a writer and co-writer I was responsible for conceiving the idea for the play and writing the content, alone or in collaboration with the actors. As a dramaturg I was responsible for honing a script into shape, much like an editor.
Choreographer – I was responsible for generating and choreographing the movement sequences.
Performance Artist – I was responsible for conceiving the idea of the work, creating it and performing it.
Set Designer – designed the concept for the set and sourced furniture and props

South Africa
2011/12 Celia’s Story – short art film, Infecting the City 2012 (GIPCA, UCT),
Shnit International Film festival 2012 Director and Writer
2011 The Maids by Jean Genet, Cape Town City Hall, Director and Co-Designer
2007/2008 Spier Contemporary Exhibition – Vertical & Horizontal I, performance artist
2008 Waking Time, Infecting the City 2008 Director & Co-Choreographer
2007 Junkie, Co-writer & Director, Grahamstown Festival, Kalk Bay Theatre
2007 Palm Tree Events in the Seychelles, Choreographer
2006/7 Porra 2 – The Returnsh!, Co-writer, Director, On Broadway, Liberty on the Sq, JHB, Grahamstown Festival
2006 ‘Two To Tango’ by Mike Van Graan, Director, Dramaturg, Liberty Theatre On The Square, JHB, Grahamstown Festival, On Broadway CT, Artscape
2006/5 ‘Porra’, Co-writer & Director, Intimate Theatre- CT, Wits Theatre- JHB, Grahamstown Festival
2006 ‘Beauty Censored’ with Ananda Fuchs, Director Choreographer, Out The Box Festival
2005 ‘Eros & Doors’, Writer, Director & Co-choreographer, Arena Theatre, UCT
2004 ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife’ by Fourie, Director, Baxter Theatre Playground Season
2004 ‘Act of Morality’ by Kench, Director & Dramaturg PANSA New Writing Fest, Kalk Bay Theatre
2004 ‘The Apple Tree’ by Spanoedes, Director, PANSA New Writing Fest, Intimate Theatre
2003 ‘Edmond’ by David Mamet, Director, Baxter Theatre Playground Season

2001 Murder by Hanoch Levin Director – British Premiere, The Gate Theatre, London
2001 Yerma by Frederico Garcia Lorca, Director, Pegasus Theatre, Oxford School of Drama, final
year students
2001 Royal National Theatre Studio, The Life & Death of Marilyn Monroe, Assistant director to Annie Castledine,
2001 Royal National Theatre Studio, Assistant Director to Nancy Meckler, ID with Antony Sher
2000 Royal Shakespeare Company, Assistant/Co-director to Ian Brown, Victoria by David Greig
2000 Royal National Theatre, Assistant Director to Conal Morrison & Trevor Nunn, Peer Gynt (adapted by Frank Mguiness)
1999 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Minute to the Millennium, Director, Co-Wrriter, Actor
1998 Savage/Love by Sam Shepard & Joseph Chaikin, Director
1998 Show of Strength Theatre Co., Bristol, Directed staged reading of Fordburg’s Finest by Paul Slabolepsky, in honour of Mandela’s 80th birthday
1998 Lysistrata by Aristophanes – Arab, Jewish & British cast, Rowan Theatre Co, Israel, Assistant/Co-Director to Dr. Sue Jennings
1997 Life’s a Dream by Calderon de la Barca, Adrian Mitchell’s adaptation, Director and Producer, Old Red Lion theatre
1997 – 2001 Mentorship with Peter Brook (theatre director) and Adrian Mitchell (playwright and poet)

Memberships and Societies
2019- current Mentor Allan gray Orbis Foundation
2018 – 2020 EXCO member South African Society of Neuroscience (SANS)
2016 – 2021 Member of Mediation in Motion
2014-2019 IC Growth Associate