Your Life’s Material: Therapuetic Performing Workshop
(4 two-hour sessions)
A workshop developed under the supervision of board-certified psychiatrist Josh Lichtman, Therapeutic Performing is designed to show participants how to take their most difficult life experiences and convert them into essays and performances, Your Life’s Material is a four-session therapeutic writing and performing technique taught by New York Times bestselling author and writing coach Anna David.
In the first session, David works with participants on the principles and techniques of writing essays and then on the principles and techniques of storytelling. Group members are given specific writing prompts designed to help them access their most complicated issues, after which several read their essays aloud for group feedback.
In the second meeting, the group watches footage of comedic storytelling shows David has created. Participants also have brief consultations with David to determine which of their life experiences are best suited for performance material. In the third meeting, David works with each person to hone their performance. The fourth meeting is an actual performance, which David hosts and in which each participant performs.
The primary purpose of the workshop is to give participants an opportunity to gain a new perspective on—and heal from—their experiences. By making their most complicated or disturbing experiences into essays and then stories they perform, people are led to have a new perspective on life experiences. Through the act of publicly sharing experiences they might have never told people on a group level, they are in turn helping to destigmatize issues that they may have struggled with in shame. A combination of a writing workshop, storytelling class and group therapy, Your Life’s Material allows people to examine their lives both through their own performances and through watching their fellow participants, as studies show that writing and sharing about complicated issues is healing not only for both the performer but also for the audience (patients suffering from hypertension have shown a significant decrease in blood pressure after watching similar patients tell stories about their own experiences). By combining the act of writing with the power of group support, and then making personal experiences into material that can entertain, participants are granted a fresh perspective on their lives, in turn being granted an opportunity to heal old issues. They receive immediate, visceral reactions to their stories, in the process sharing lessons they’ve learned with audience members SAMHSA’s “Eight Dimensions of Wellness” recommends that focusing on eight specific elements of life (emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual) improves the mental and physical health of those suffering from mental issues, substance use disorders or plain old everyday life troubles.
Your Life’s Material has the unique ability to traverse nearly every one of those dimensions, creating an entirely new way of examining and then communicating about life experiences. Your Life’s Material is also an excellent method for helping to contextualize experiences for those struggling with how to communicate their healing, understanding and growth with loved ones.