Thursday, June 10, 2010
Facilitating Group Monologue Shows
I had written and performed three solo shows when I decided to offer a workshop for woman who wanted to write and perform 10 minute mini-solo shows. From there I began to develop curriculum to offer to people living with cancer, both patients, and their family members. After the Cancer Monologues I realized that this process was actually Universal. Every person has a story. No one escapes the experience of humanity which brings with it pain, loss, grief as well as opportunities to meet the challenges and overcome the obstacles. In this human movement of being presented with a challenge and meeting it fully, we come to be more and more comfortable with the process of living. We learn to embrace the present moment more fully, slow down and savor the moments of our life and trust that all will be well, no matter what obstacle we are facing either internally or externally. We come to know that there is something bigger than any challenge we are faced with. That is the human spirit. We move from the human obstacle into an awareness of the larger playground of Soul. When we claim the gifts held in the realm of Soul we are able to re-frame our experience as a necessary movement away from the temporal to the unmoving, unchanging domain of the eternal. Our stories have deep meaning as we examine them and share them through this lens. This is where we are able to see ourselves and the pain and gifts from our lives as compost to claim ourselves as Hero’s headed home “trailing clouds of glory from which we came”. The process, as a Universal one has been used effectively with people living with cancer, Hospice caregivers, The HIV and AIDS community, veterans suffering from PTSD, Palestinian and Israel communities of teen-agers who live in fear and have experienced varying degrees of trauma, people experiencing divorce, new mothers sharing their birth stories, mothers who experienced the death of a child, people who have been adopted, members of the National Alliance of Mental Illness…both those suffering mental illness and family members, sexual abuse survivors. The only necessary component for the process to work is for the participants stay through the entire experience and work with-in the structure. There are important reasons for the structure and the way it is laid out from start to finish. There are tools for the facilitators to utilize for participants experiencing resistance. We will get into these later because resistance will arise for some people as they write about their often painful or traumatic experiences. It is actually very important that they be led through the entire process with the necessary facilitator support once it is embarked upon. Otherwise, it has the potential to do harm which must be avoided at all cost. If the deeper issues get activated in the writing without the experience of re-framing that happens when one shares the monologue onstage, it can be psychologically damaging. The facilitator needs to have strong boundaries and inner strength to guide people through even when their resistance or even anger arises and gets projected onto the facilitator.