Description of Workshops








Autobiographical Writing/Performing Workshops

Samples of past workshop productions directed by Dan:

A participatory workshop on how to develop and use personal stories to create theatrical performances.

Participants experience physical, vocal, conceptual and emotional exercises designed to evoke stories and memories. Oral stories are explored thoroughly, then translated into writing. From the written page, stories are then structured and staged to create a live theatrical presentation.


“Telling your story” is an act of self-empowerment and validation. It can be a means for people to understand themselves more deeply; to acknowledge the challenges they have faced on their life journey; to celebrate and take honest pride in who they are; and to make intelligent, positive, non-reactionary choices for the future. This is a vehicle to self-knowledge which is quite simple (storytelling) and has great potential for powerfully transformative art.

Exploration of ones “inner world” means a willingness to take an unflinching look at experiences of deep emotion and passion. These are important pieces of human experience yet we are generally not encouraged to acknowledge them. Instead we are pushed to numb and distract ourselves and ignore that inner world. But having the opportunity to look deeply within, especially in a supportive group setting, can have a profound impact on personal growth as well as serve as a catalyst for a powerful theatrical experience.


I believe humans are inherently good, intelligent, creative, powerful, cooperative and caring beings. I believe our natural state of being is one of spirited enjoyment of being alive, connected to all life, in harmony with ourselves and others. However most of the time human behavior does not embody or express these wonderful qualities. Something goes wrong, something disconnects us from our finest humanity and pulls us into irrationality. I don't believe our irrationality is inherent, I think this is the result of how we have been hurt. In a thousand different ways, a thousand different times, on a thousand different levels. We carry the effects of those hurts with us, usually unconsciously. It limits us, confuses us, separates us, pits us against one another and often against ourselves. It narrows our minds, our hearts and our lives. But that is not who we really are. We are magnificant, powerful, benign and compassionate beings.


We live in a society which is primarily motivated by greed; which values profit over human beings; which is loaded with many forms of oppressive dynamics - sexism, racism, classism, men’s oppression, Gay oppression, anti-Semitism, the list goes on. These forces keep us divided and keep society functioning (i.e. cheaper labor from females, overworked men, obedient people of color, etc.), at the expense of our humanity and inter-connectedness. If we look deeply enough, it is not hard to see how our lives have been limited and damaged by oppression. This applies to every individual, regardless of the "privilege" anyone may have also experienced.


Transforming society from irrational/destructive/oppressive into cooperative/ healing/respectful is a complex over-arching concept that begins with something very simple and intimate: "Know thyself". That includes understanding how we have been impacted by oppression, which may be difficult to perceive. How do we begin to undo and heal from the many hurtful things that happened to us, and regain our natural sense of well-being, harmony, and compassion? I think we need to tell our stories. This is the starting place.


Workshops have two distinct components: “process” and “product”.

“Process” consists of the activities through which participants explore facets of their lives. People have the opportunity to examine issues in a supportive environment. I create a safe space for people to tell their story the way they actually experienced it -- not just the polite, sanitized, bored version but with all the heat and passion with which it lives in their minds. There can be a powerful cathartic effect from this, and it is not unusual for people to have deep emotional break-throughs. The result is clearer thinking, a restoration of inner harmony -- and powerful art.

In terms of themes, various categories of identity are explored such as class, gender, race/culture/ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, etc. We also explore stories of different emotional extremes - love, joy, heartbreak, outrage, terror, embarrassment, triumph, etc. The “process” component is valuable in and of itself.

The “product” is the transformation of one's personal story into a theatrical experience. Participants have the opportunity to stretch their creativity, strengthen their ability to focus, regain and deepen their powers of expression, and reinforce their sense of groundedness (onstage and in the world).


Numerous physical games and activities are combined with writing exercises to help participants find and explore their stories. These can be as fun as they are intensely challenging.

Activities are designed to:
Increase flexibility in body movement, facial expression and vocal range
Enhance awareness of spatial relationships, energy levels and timing
Heighten physical, energetic, and emotional sensitivity
Develop improvisational creativity
Regain playful spirit and zest
Deepen interpersonal connection skills

A basic tool used is the technique of “active listening”. This is a powerful aid for reaching the heart of a story. It is simple in concept but very difficult in practice. It consists of providing supportive, nurturing and thoughtful attention to someone as they explore deeply personal and intimate subjects which may be highly-charged with emotion -- the kinds of stories which make most compelling and moving art.


Workshops can range from a 4-hour introductory event to extended residencies of up to two months with 2-3 meetings per week.

A typical workshop meeting consists of: a dyad check-in (grounding/connecting); group check-in; physical warm-up; improvisational vocal & physical exercises. There may be 1-3 specific themes explored through physical activities which lead into writing exercises. Participants then read their work aloud with others. Occasionally I will work with an individual in front of the group to explore a story deeper. In an extended residency, homework assignments (writing) are given and people later share these in the group.

In addition I present concepts about storytelling as a vehicle for personal liberation.

In an extended residency, during the final week or so I work with participants one-to-one to shape their story into a theatrical creation. Collaborative performances between participants are encouraged, as mutual support is a highly-valued principle throughout the workshop. Finally, as many group rehearsals as possible take place leading up to the final presentation.

I’m interested in assisting people to find and explore stories which reflect their efforts to hold on to their humanity. These are my favorite kinds of stories to explore because of the rich potential for reminding us of our passion, our power and our desire. My workshops provide an opportunity for people to honor their stories and transform them into powerful theatrical creations. I have successfully used this approach with people of different ages, cultures, backgrounds, with veteran actors as well as with non-artists who have never set foot onstage.

For more information or to schedule a workshop, please contact Dan @
310-453-4544 voice / 310-633-1926 cell / DKBB12@AOL.COM


©2003 Dan Kwong