How is Healing Theatre different than other personal empowerment workshops?

Typically, we will tell our stories or write them down.  There is an inherent benefit in this. But when we engage the body and the body's wisdom, there is another level of empowerment that happens when we embody our life.  There are many forms of movement and dance therapies available, but few modalities that combine body, voice and story in a setting where you can be witnessed and received. Healing Theatre excersizes bypass the story we always tell about a life event, and we are able to access the subconscious and give voice to what lives in our muscles, sinew and bones.

Standing in front of a group re-enacting your story - as if it is happening right now - brings the story present.  And whatever became stuck or frozen at the time  the story took place can now be more fully experienced within the context of who we have become.  As we enliven our story, we become enlivened. 

Healing Theatre is transformation.  It is also fun!  It brings out the child in us that doesn't get to much playtime.  Healing Theatre combines world story, personal story, community and theatre.  The theatre part is the fun part - really.  Exercises are introduced that have us loosen up, laugh, and remember how to play.

Like other workshops, Healing Theatre workshops provide a safe container in a small group setting.  A small group provides support, compassion and attention to  each person as they do their work.  Being seen and being witnessed can be a powerful and healing experience in and of itself.  Witnessing the work of others helps to stir and contribute to your own work.  And their is a mutual enrichment when our work is shared and we experience how our personal work is meaningful to others in their life journey.

What types of activities are common in workshops?

Living Statues - Participants will create living statues with their bodies to express a feeling, a moment in time, a person in their life, their response to a world story, or a character from a world story.  Once a statue takes shape there are a number of directions that the participant may go in.  They can give voice to the statue, letting the statue speak.  The statue may go from a living statue to a statue in motion.  Sometimes another participant will stand and duplicate the statue that was created, and the person who initially created the statue can now observe the statue and interact with it.

Characters - Participants may create a character - a person they know, an aspect of themselves, a personage/archetype within a world story.  In each of these instances, they are enhancing and enlivening one aspect of themselves.  Inspiration for the character is found in listening to a world story, engaging in an art excersize, journeying and/or doing statue work.  By embodying and giving voice to the character, they come into relationship with an aspect of themselves in a fresh way that gives them a unique perspective on their own life.  The characters can be shadow characters that help participants reconcile with aspects of themselves they have disassociated from.  They can also be light characters - archetypes, deities, higher self, the ideal - that can provide a larger perspective, compassionate understanding and guidance for the participant.

Re-enacting Life Stories - There are a number of approaches to this.  All involve being in your body and behaving as if the story is happening right now.  The story can be told standing still while making eye contact with other participants.  Other participants may be selected to play different people within the life event and there is a re-enactment of a moment in time.  Different questions and suggestions may emerge that inform how the re-enactment can best happen in alignment with the need of the participant and the director's sensitivity to 'the flow' - how energy is wanting to move and be expressed.

Other types of activities will most likely be  included within a workshop as the desires and inclinations of the group emerge.  Healing Theatre is a co-creative process and participants help to shape what will emerge as part of the group expression.  And while this is true it is also true that Living Statues, Character Development and Re-enactments of Life Events are the cornerstones of Healing Theatre workshops.  Given the lenght of the workshop along with the inclinations and comfort of the participants, there may be an emphasis on only one or two of these elements within a given workshop.

Why work with a world story or archetypal theme?

When Healing Theatre began, it did not utilize world stories.  Instead, there were archetypal themes that were explored, such Working with the Shadow Self or Your Relationship with your Mother.  Universal human themes were powerful and evoked rich and beautiful work.  These workshops are still occasionally scheduled, especially the one of Relationship with Your Mother (as this one has historically been one of the most popular and rewarding Healing Theatre workshops ever offered.)

When workshops were introduced that worked with a world story as the inspiration for the work a number of things occurred:

  • Each participant was now exploring the same story.  As each person brought re-enacted events from their lives, there was a further deepening and understanding of the world story and the myriad ways that an archetype or archetypal theme can be produced.  In effect, participants all began to feel as though everyone's story that was being expressed was also their story.  A sense of 'we are all connected' was experienced.
  • A world story speaks in the language of our soul.  When working with a world story, we encounter the ineffable.  At the end of the day, participants will comment that they feel they were fed in a place that has been starving and they didn't know how to address.
  • A world story connects us with our humanity.  We no longer become an isolated individual in a large cold world.  We become an integral play in the fabric of humanity and can feel how our story is woven with the stories of all who have come before us.  There is a sense that we are part of a much bigger story, the story of humanity.  This is surprisingly extraordinarily empowering and healing to experience in our culture that has such a strong value for rugged individualism.. 

What is the format for a workshop?

  • Workshops begin with the telling of a world story
  • Themes and archetypes of the story are discussed
  • Each person begins to identify with how the story is alive within their own life
  • In response to questions posed:  participants re-enact an event from their life, create and give voice to a character that represents an aspect of themselves
  • Exercises promote engagement with our body's and being able to access and give voice to our body's wisdom
  • Participants support each other by witnessing and occasionally playing a role in the re-enactment of another's life story

How long is a workshop?

It depends.  In an introductory evening, all the steps are covered and there can be a full sense and satisfying experience in the course of a couple hours.  Typically workshops are one or two days or a weekend (Friday night - Sunday afternoon)

Is there any preparation before attending a workshop?

Your life has been the preparation.  You do not need to know any world stories or have worked with archetypes.  You do not need to have ever stood on a stage or been an actor in a play.  You simply bring the willingness to play and explore.

Find Vitality and Your Voice within a Story