Therapy at the Theatre
Brooke Randolph, LMHC
"There is something satisfying in hearing our experience described by another."
Today as I sat in the Indiana Repertory Theatre listening to In Acting Shakespeare
by James DeVita, that line resonated with me enough that I had to write it down. James was saying that is why people attend the theater - to hear their experiences described by another. Perhaps, it is also to look at our own experiences outside of ourselves as portrayed by someone else. I have always found the theater interesting as someone who studies the human experience and human behaviors. It makes sense that many could find ah ha
moments in observing an actor respond to a situation similar to their own, moments that are outside their grasp when simply pondering their own situation.
Others may use the theater like certain movies or songs to help them experience emotions. Sometimes it is just easier or more satisfying to cry during a sappy movie than to grieve things in our own lives. It may be sublimation, but it can also be emotional education and a helpful way to process or pre-process difficult experiences. Mr. DeVita moved me today with his rendition of a Shakespearean monologue about grief. Although there is nothing that I am grieving currently, the wonderful description that he brought to life made me feel it in that moment. I will likely be better able to describe and process my own grief the next time that is needed.
Hearing our experiences described by another is also an aspect of therapy that is moving to clients
. When I can describe a client's internal experience, he or she knows that I understand. It makes them feel less "crazy" and more connected to the rest of the human experience. It is emotionally powerful and encouraging to know that someone cared enough to actually listen (not all therapists actually listen, sadly) and to understand the unique complexities of our personal situations.
For me, theater is also a way that I include more beauty in my life to renew my emotional energy
. There is art and sound and words and thoughts that are purposefully put together to create an experience. I find it more moving than most paintings, although I also enjoy meandering through museums. Hearing our experiences described by another is so emotionally powerful that it also can renew your emotional energy.
You may have a friend or family member that can speak to and hear your soul's experiences. There may be pieces of your experience that you are not yet ready to entrust to anyone on your support team. Whether it is a therapist, friend, family member, movie, or play, find someone who can describe your experiences and help you see yourself more clearly.
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