All of those are different names for the same thing... our little organization is progressing and having wonderful opportunities to teach others how the rules of improv can give us tools to be better communicators, more open individuals, and be human beings that live in the moment. The Women's Resource Center here on BYU Campus helped us facilitate weekly workshops for a few weeks in January, that went great. We are starting to meet again every Saturday and will hopefully have more Outreach opportunities! I sometimes feel overwhelmed with everything I have going on and that this, which is important, sometimes gets put on the back-burner, but the Lord fills in where I am lacking and things are still moving forward and will continue to do so as long as they are supposed to.
Over the past 8 months I have been increasingly drawn to the relatively new field of "Dramautism," a phrase sometimes used, when talking about applying theatre to individuals on the Autism Spectrum. I have done some research on both Applied Theatre and Autism. (If you are wondering what Applied Theatre is, I started a Ning Network called appliedtheatre.org that you can check out) Through a series of highly fortunate events, I have been able to volunteer at a home/academy for men and women with learning disabilities. I help out in their drama class, teaching improvisation and theatre skills. It has been incredible. Most of the men and women have Asperger Syndrome. I am learning so much and seeing how theatre can be such a powerful tool for them. Their plans for a musical fell through, and I think I may now be assisting the teacher/director in devising a piece with them--which is such a wonderfully validating process, that I am so excited to be a part of. I am learning much about these learning disabilities, how to better interact and love people no matter their struggles, and that maybe this is a field that I could enter professionally. I love it. I can't wait to see what happens and what they create.
BYU's Young Company production has been a privilege to be a part of. We finished our BYU run and are still touring to schools until the end of the semester, and we will have a few other performances--at the Covey Arts Center and at the Orem Library and possibly other places.
This show has been moving, to say the least. It's about family, trials, love, loss, hope, connectivity, consequences, and many other things that we discover daily. Being an actor in this show that was created using Viewpoints and that has such deep and strong messages has helped me to understand the power that theatre can have, and has allowed me to share hope and love with my fellow actors and our audience with every performance.
Touring is golden. Being able to discuss themes that are real and meaningful and powerful with 9(ish) year olds is truly moving. When most children's theatre is loud and crazy and trying to keep their attention, ours is simple and powerful and talks about hard things. But these hard things are real things. These children that we talk to have experiences just as intense as Sadako's. I am continually amazed and heart-broken as the children open up and share with us and their class about their parent's having cancer, or their grandma dying from cancer. One little girl pulled me aside and told me she had epilepsy. I let her tell me as much as she wanted to, hugged her dear little body, thanked her for telling me, and had her write her wish for peace on her crane she had folded. She had a smile reaching from ear to ear. She just wanted to tell someone. She knows how Sadako felt in the hospital. What can be even more powerful is the moment we discuss with them what they can do to help others--to share peace. Seeing them really think and come up with meaningful ways that they personally can contribute in the classroom, at home, or to the world, is when my heart fills with hope for these children.
There is so much more to say. So many moments of beauty. Like the night when a man who had been interned brought his wife, and some of his children and grandchildren and they folded cranes to send to the peace park in Hiroshima. Like when our cast sings a hymn together and someone shares a scripture and testifies of Christ before our performance and we pray together to share in the best way we can. Like every performance when I (as Mrs. Watanabe) hand Sadako her mask and invite her to join us in the Spirit world and I heal from my own wounds by helping a little girl feel the love of her Heavenly Father and the Great Atoning Sacrifice of her Savior.
That's what it's all about and how grateful I am to know what I know and have this opportunity to share it.
check out athousandcranes.net :)
northern california sunflower child. i grew up reading stories, writing stories, drawing stories, and then acting out stories. my parents are travel-lovers and that was passed on to me. studied lots of things at brigham young university in provo, utah. got my dream jobs right out of the shoot and am currently working with people with autism using the arts. i work on projects i'm passionate about on the side, love my family and friends, and try to LIVE this messy thing called life.