Life Stories: Beginning the Journey to the Kennedy Center

Original post can be viewed on The Theatre Lab’s blog on Monday, April 2, 2012.

It’s not often that a group of individuals with no formal training in acting are given the opportunity to perform at a place like the Kennedy Center. It’s even more special when you consider that the work these individuals will be presenting is drawn directly from their own life experiences and struggles.

My Soul Look Back and Wonder: Life Stories from Women in Recovery represents the culmination of a journey of self-exploration for a group of fifteen women in substance abuse recovery at N Street Village. For the past two months, these courageous women have used theatre exercises under the guidance of Thomas Workman to give a voice to their own personal stories. Through scenes, monologues, poetry, and song, the women have found a way to express their struggles with addiction, homelessness, domestic violence and much more. Their words and their work have been structured into a script by playwright Jennifer L. Nelson and they are now in rehearsals with Theatre Lab Co-Director Deb Gottesman, getting ready for their Kennedy Center debut.

For most of us, these topics are distant and removed from our own lives. We may see homeless people on the streets as we go to our jobs, or hear about drug addiction on the news, but we rarely have the opportunity to see past the surface of these issues and learn about the individuals who have been caught in such situations. This performance gives us that chance.

What you will see at the April 30th performance at the Kennedy Center will be a fully-produced theatrical work, complete with sets, lights, and costumes. At the center of the performance are these fifteen women, most of whom have ever stepped on a stage before and, in many cases, never even seen a play. As we begin the rehearsal process with them we are starting from square one, explaining the differences between stage left and right, and upstage versus downstage, even as we struggle to unpack the characters and situations at the center of the play’s narrative. Sometimes the women play themselves; sometimes they take parts in other people’s stories.

These women are not trained actors, but therein lies the magic of this performance. You will see something that is unapologetically raw and direct. You will hear these women tell their stories with their own words and in their own voices in one of the nation’s premiere venues for the performing arts.

Over the next several weeks we will continue to use this blog to provide updates and insights into the rehearsal process as the women draw closer to sharing their work in The Terrace Theater. This promises to be a wholly unique and moving experience for the performers and audience alike. We hope that you will join us.

-Jeff Scott
Marketing and Events Manager
The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts

 My Soul Look Back and Wonder: Life Stories from Women in Recovery

Scripted by Jennifer L. Nelson from original dramatic work
by the women of N Street Village
Conceived by Thomas Workman
Directed by Deb Gottesman

Monday April 30 at 7:30pm
at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Terrace Theater
Tickets available online or call 202-823-0449

About nstreetvillage

N Street Village is a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in Washington, D.C. With comprehensive services addressing both emergency and long-term needs, we help women achieve personal stability and make gains in their housing, income, employment, mental health, physical health, and addiction recovery.
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