Samples of past workshop productions directed by Dan:
DESCRIPTION A participatory workshop on how to develop and use personal stories to create
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
BACKGROUND 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.
PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVE 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.
SOCIAL JUSTICE PERSPECTIVE 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, mens 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.
OUR STORIES 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.
BASIC WORKSHOP COMPONENTS Workshops have two distinct components: process
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
WORKSHOP TOOLS &
METHODS 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
Activities are designed to: Increase flexibility in body movement, facial expression
and vocal range
Enhance awareness of spatial relationships, energy levels and
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.
WORKSHOP STRUCTURE 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.
Im 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.
more information or to schedule a workshop, please contact Dan
@ 310-453-4544 voice / 310-633-1926 cell / DKBB12@AOL.COM