Find Vitality and Your Voice within a Story

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Performance Labs

Performance Labs have all the elements of Workshops.

They simply go more in depth

and culminate in a ritual theater performance for an invited audience

Healing Theatre began with Performance Labs only.  Over time, audience members would say that they wanted to experience the work that everyone had done without the 'performance' element, and so workshops were created. 

It is with the Performance Labs ,that the deepest healing occurs.  How it happens is a mystery.  But it is almost always guaranteed that through the process a core transformational shift will occur.  Many people who participate in Performance Labs have done all types of personal empowerment or self improvement modalities have come to understand their patterns, their own limiting beliefs but have not been able to bridge the awareness of them with being able to shift them in real time. They still operate from these beliefs and patterns and are looking for something else that will have them jump to a new way of operating in their life.

Embodying your life, embodying your stories is a powerful form of healing. 

The Format

  • A world story is told.  Participants sign up to explore their own life using the blueprint of the world story as the journey to being human.
  • Typically, the lab will meet once a week for six weeks to explore, play and improvise.
  • The work each week is scribed and from this the Healing Theatre director creates a script
  • At the end of each session, a question will be posed.  Participants will contemplate their life in relation to the question during the week. The next session, each will bring in a story or an aspect of their life the question has evoked.  That evening will be an exploration of what each person has brought to share that evening.
  • The next six weeks are spent staging, memorizing and working with what has been scripted.
  • Each participant is asked to invite 20 people from their life to the culmination performance that is ritual theater at its best.
  • The ritual performance is  held in an intimate space, like a black box, where the work that has been done is presented.  Following the performance there is a dialogue between those in the audience and those that presented.
  • Audience members often identify with what is being re-enacted.  They begin experiencing their own life, their own hurdles, initiations, breakthroughs and passions.

A common misperception is that by spending so much time with our life stories, we become further identified with these stories.

Over and over in performance labs, the outcome or culimating experience is just the opposite.

  • By spending time with your life stories, you begin to separate out the event from the meaning that you assigned it.  The meaning you give to these stories shifts as you go through the process of the Performance Lab.  Sometimes it shifts more than once or even twice.

  • In the process of rehearsal, as you are paying attention to staging, to directions, you begin to observe your story as something outside of you.  In effect, we get that you have lived your story but that you are not your story, you are something more than your story.  At the same time, as your story is enlivened, acknowledged and honored you are enlivened.  It is a bit of a paradox.

  • In addition, in the rehearsal and performance you may at one moment be re-enacting a story from your life and then in the next moment drop your own persona, your own story and suddenly enter someone else's.  You may be saying the lines of another participant's Mother or Teacher or CoWorker.  You need to be able to drop your story and then enter it again on cue.  This is a powerful experience and there is patience and time in rehearsal to safely and smoothly enact these transitions.

  • Ultimately, you come to see that the stories of your life are stories that lived through you.  Yes, they have helped to shape your life.  You begin to see the throughline of how all your stories are connected and see the hidden impulse that has carried you to wear you are now.  The stories are something we carry like a treasure, but they are not who we are.  We discover who we are by our relationship to them, not in our identification with them.

Another common misperception is that prior acting experience would be beneficial to the process

Performance Labs have included a mix of professional actors, amateurs and people who have never stepped foot on a stage.  In the end, it is often difficult to access who has no experience and who has loads of experience on stage.  Why?  Because each person is playing themselves.  They are the actor and the character.  It becomes the presence they bring to their stories that an audience sees.  In fact, when an audience was asked to identify the person on the stage who was the professional actor, the majority of them identified the person who had never been on a stage.

How can this be? 

One observation is that a nonactor has no learned behaviors that they use when standing in front of a group of people.  Also, because they do not identify with being an actor, there is less ego, and therefore less pressure they put on themselves to show up a certain way onstage.  By the same token, many professional actors have learned 'crutches', behaviors and 'schticks' that help them feel comfortable on stage and these behaviors have often received applause and praise from audiences. When professional actors engage Healing Theatre, they are asked to be authentic, to not put a character on but to take the mask of their personal off.  This can be deeply challenging to a professional actor but in the end also very rewarding for they discover a new level of authenticity and vulnerability that will serve them in their work.