Search

Questions to Consider When Staging Trauma


White background with the title of the podcast "Any Other Anythings?" with a squiggle on the left side of the title
To find 'Alt text' right click on image and click on 'inspect’ image

MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art in trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities and the organization as a whole. I'm Molly and you're listening to Any Other Anything's?


Hello everyone and welcome to episode three of Season 2 of Any Other Anything's, I'm Molly. In this episode we will be going over some questions to consider before staging a show that involves trauma or is about trauma and a reminder that everything in Season 2 is all about trauma and creativity, so please as a reminder put yourself first. I won't be going into any details about traumatic events, however it is impossible for me to know dear listener what you might find as activating or triggering so feel free to pause at any time this episode is available whenever you're ready to come back to it.


I'll offer a resourcing activity for today. So, this one's more writing based; if you are not someone who enjoys writing or you prefer to draw or video or audio record feel free to do that instead. I'm someone who really I like to write stuff down, so I tend to go that direction but you can also make a dance about this or anything that really works with this offering. So I call these anchoring reflections, so it's something that you can come back to. I find sometimes when going through new information around trauma or just anything that might be like a little challenging for us it's important to have that thing that you can come back to that's a grounding, resourcing, centering, thing for you. Such as, like living in your beliefs and that's one of the prompts so consider this your anchor um if you're feeling a little lost as we go through this episode feel free to pause and return to this reflection.


All right, so a couple of prompts for this reflection uh you are welcome to just like think about these or maybe you want to pause the audio it's up to you. Um, so an anchoring reflection before beginning: how do you define trauma and is there like a prop or some object that represents trauma well for you? So, for example, I often talk about a stress ball as something that I feel represents my relationship to understanding trauma. It's something where I can squeeze it. I can get curious about like what happens if I drop it and I don't worry about it. I'm very comfortable holding a stress ball and so that is a way for me to understand how I uh think about trauma, so what's like a proper object that works for you? And, if you're someplace where you're hopefully not driving or you can, maybe it's a prop that you have available in your space and you can keep it nearby while listening. Second part of this anchoring reflection is: what philosophies or truths or beliefs do you hold on sharing stories of trauma? I'll say that one again: what philosophies, truths, beliefs do you hold on sharing stories of trauma? This has been a question that I often bring up uh in workshops or sessions um, but it wasn't until, I don't know, maybe a few weeks ago that I used the phrase trauma-bias. Um, I have no idea if that is a phrase that is out there or not. But, one of the things I've been thinking about is how we all come into these conversations about trauma with our own trauma history, with our own truths about trauma and I think it's important especially when going into a space where multiple trauma histories might be coming together. Being aware of what are you bringing into that space and are there certain assumptions about what others are bringing into that space when you talk about trauma. So those are the two big anchoring reflections for you and with that let's begin.


Um, so in the past year of collective trauma that I think this globe has experienced there's been no shortage of stories to tell about trauma and this can be you know like, let's go, remember we're going big and broad with definitions of trauma. Um...and an observation that I've had in this past year is that there's a lot more open discussion of trauma and acknowledging its pervasiveness, which I find is really exciting and I'm really glad people are finally talking about this. Um, and I've noticed an uh like an accompanying trend is that creatives particularly those in positions of power and thinking of fellow educators and directors and choreographers, are jumping into rehearsal spaces to really unpack their own traumas in communities that are often oppressed. So I'm thinking of youth or students and systems of education and so if you find yourself that you're an art maker, who is feeling an urgency around creating a performance, especially right now about right now; I encourage you to slow down and and maybe almost come to a complete stop before moving forward in that production. And, so that's what I'm going to really focus on, or like what's the thought patterns that I go through before selecting what kind of work is going to be staged. And, I have a lot more questions than answers, so if you're looking for the answer, I don't know if I have it for you. I have a lot of opinions though and I'll share what I can in the next several minutes along with the questions and I hope that the questions help guide you to decision making and hopefully are provoking enough to maybe go about whatever kind of production you are putting on in a slightly different way. So, the primary question: is should you make this work? And, like I am not a fan of using the word "should", um however in this moment: Yes, this is really what I think is the right question. Um, if the first like as soon as that creative thought comes flying in or you arrive at it in some way shape or form ask yourself, 'Should I be doing this?' 'Should I be leading this?' And, so here are some of the questions that um I think about when I'm trying to determine if I should make whatever work I'm making.


So, the first one is what is the why behind creating work sharing stories of trauma, like what is the why now behind this work? And, then what is my relationship to the content of the work or what is your relationship, right? So thinking is this desire to create in reaction or in response to a personal experience is it about broader ideas around trauma is it about someone else's trauma. And, underneath that we're digging in really deep with this second one of what is your relationship to the content of the work is how likely are you to be activated or triggered by this work, right? So, I think about that for myself like how likely am I to be activated or triggered by this work. Um, then like what's the plan to take care of yourself and others in the space throughout the process as well as the performance and the production. Then how might avoidance tactics reveal themselves through cognitive bypassing or intellect intellectualizing of trauma and, then where are the boundaries of empathy versus exploitation? There's a great article um posted several years ago now, I think in the New York Times, perhaps about empathy versus exploitation. And, I'm kind of against empathy, as I've written about and shared before that, in general I don't think it's possible to walk in someone else's shoes. I also think it's very dangerous to walk in someone else's shoes. So, I prefer compassion.


And, the last question here: is what skills, knowledge and abilities do you bring into this work? So, this is also into the room, into the process. I feel very comfortable with trauma, I'm a certified trauma support specialist. I've been creating work around trauma for 14 years. I feel comfortable going into that space. But if this is your first time, then maybe that comfort level isn't there. Um, and with all of these questions like it's gathering this information to help determine if you should or should not make this work at this time. We'll get to part two in a moment. Let me just run through these questions one more time for you so the ultimate question: is should you be making work around trauma? Thinking about the what is the why behind creating work, sharing stories of trauma, what is the why now behind this work? What is your relationship to the content of this work? Is this in reaction or response to a personal experience broader ideas around trauma and someone else's trauma? How likely are you as the facilitator to be activated or triggered by the work? What is your plan to take care of yourself and others and the process through the performance? What might, how might avoidance tactics reveal themselves through cognitive bypassing or intel-intellectualizing of trauma and where the boundaries of empathy and exploitation are showing up? And, finally what skills, knowledge and abilities do you bring into this work? And, a reminder you've got those anchoring reflections if any of this is getting a little overwhelming. All right you've got your anchor, you've got your weight, your center, you're grounded.


So once you go through those first set of questions to determine if you should make this work, which I can't tell you, right? So looking at your answers if there's a gut response, sit with it, but let it be a really methodical process, okay. If you go through those questions and you still want to move forward. It could also be like totally practical logistical kind of stuff like, maybe you already wrote a grant and you got the grant and you don't really want to return the money. I understand that, you gotta move forward, right?


So the second question is what is the best way to go about creating this work? And, I once again have a list of questions for this. So questions to consider to determine the best way to make this work. So is this work being done solo, is it with collaborators, is it with an ensemble? If working with others, what's the communication of involving them with this project? Is it an open audition, is it invitation only? If you're choosing to work alone, is who is your support like what are your resources? So that you don't completely isolate yourself while creating work around trauma. Is this a live performance? Is it pre-recorded? Is it kind of both which method of delivery of the performance would be the most sustainable for those involved in the work? So, if it is a highly physical live performance, that is something that you want to have people go through on a daily night with an audience that's live in the space, with lots of variables happening. Or, is it something where maybe it would be best if it was pre-recorded and there was some other way of approaching it where performers would not be asked to reenact whatever kind of trauma they might be embodying on a nightly basis, right?


And, then lastly this final question goes back to the questions that you go through under these shouldn't you be making this work and it's looking at how to adapt or mitigate to address any of the the content or process based answers that you went up, that you went through before. So as you're going through this, are you likely to be activated or triggered by the work like, 'Okay, cool' so, if the answer is like, 'Yeah I'm pretty sure that's gonna happen.' Then how do you, how do you work with that, right. Like, be proactive for yourself, take care of yourself and others. How's that going to work in this process? Find some strategies before you even open up an audition or invite collaborators in or choose to step into the studio solo. Start to look at how to mitigate, how to adapt, how to cope with any of the concerns that might have come up in the previous set of questions.


So I'll go through this one more time questions to consider as an individual to determine the best way to create this work: are you working alone, with collaborators in an ensemble? If working with others, what's the communication of involving them with this project? Is that an open audition, is it an invitation only? If you're working alone: who is your support, what are your resources? If it's a live performance um or is it a is it a live performance or is it pre-recorded or is it both? Which method of delivery would be the most sustainable for those involved in this work? And, then finally how might you adapt or mitigate cope to address any of the content or process based concerns that might have come up in the first set of questions? All right, so as I said: I have a lot of questions, I don't have a lot of answers. Um, and like go back to those anchoring reflections if needed, and if you are someone who is really digging in. Maybe, if you've done this work before or something I got a few more questions I'll toss out before wrapping up this episode. Um, and I think these are the ones that I don't believe there are ever answers for but are worth exploring and sitting with.


So, one: How might trauma be transferred, perpetuated, experienced vicariously embodied, discharged or as a result of this work and the process to create it?

Two: How might trauma responses be rewarded or encouraged as a result of this work and the process to create it?

Three: How might systemic or institutional traumas impact the work about trauma?

Four: Would you be comfortable able willing to cancel the production if the mental health of those working on the production declined because of it?

Five: Should individuals share their personal traumas why or why not should individuals only share others personal traumas, why or why not?

Six: How is the audience cared for?

And finally, seven: Are you ready for the unforeseeable?


And that's where we'll end episode three. Thank you all! Um, I think this is one of those episodes sit with the questions, check out our blog that has it already transcribed on there. So you can really look at them and feel free to share, feel free to use in your spaces of creativity and your spaces of learning. And, if you want to find out more feel free to reach out. All right all, take care of yourselves. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Any Other Anything's where we're focusing on trauma and creativity.


If you are interested in learning more, please check out the show notes. You will be able to find our self-guided workshops that are available on our website: greyboxcollective.com/shop. And, that is grey with an 'e'. There's also a coupon code in the show notes, that gives you 10% off all services, as a thank you. If you are enjoying this episode and would like more of it please consider donating through our website. Again, greyboxcollective.com/donate, so that we can continue to produce this episode and produce new work around trauma and creativity and trauma-informed creative practices.


Thank you all very much for listening. Take care of yourselves!




#GreyBoxCollective #AnyOtherAnythings #Podcast #Season2 #Creativity #TraumaInformed #Stage #Questions

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art and trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities and the organization as a whole. I'

MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art and trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities and the organization as a whole. I'

MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art and trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities and the organization as a whole. I'