Through the Woods

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2 weeks till the curtain draws (is that what they say in theatre?) My feelings about “7 on the 7th” (7pm on Aug. 7th) and what we’ve, as a cast, still to do are similar to day one of this whole thing: excited, nervous, and sooo curious. I am surprised and thrilled for how much I care and how powerful this process has been for my personal world.

Upon finding out there was a recovery play happening, I thought first: That would support and supplement my recovery efforts…hello Laura Wood!; secondly, I thought: I don’t have time, nor do I want to be in a play, not for me; third thought: It’s a chance to be with people, maybe connect, I need that… Plus, group with Laura Wood, c’mon! This is why I stayed in St. Louis; fourth & final: Ehhh, I’m not sure…

Many thanks to my friend, River, I showed up; for what, I wasn’t quit sure. As cool as I tried to play it, I was excited, nervous, and so curious. How does this work? When I found out at the first ‘rehearsal’ that this entire process is actually for Laura’s dissertation, I was blown away. Feelings of being honored to be part of it, curious how it’d work, confused why I’d not heard, and feeling used and manipulated were an undercurrent to the gratitude for it, as a whole, and the joy I felt to be sitting in a room with several other people that ‘get it’. (disclaimer: used and manipulated is my stuff; in no way was I actually manipulated nor do I feel used. It has been an honor and I am beyond measure grateful to be part of Twin Falls…and larger scale, to participate in the research and energy to help people with eating disorders.)

Deciding to commit to the project, I envisioned diving “all-in” for the process, but I held back. I protected myself from losing perspective of the scene. I hold distance; keep an outsider’s observant eye. It doesn’t feel safe to do it any other way, to lose myself in a situation sometimes called connection. In the real world, I can’t afford to be so stupid.

I’ve watched the group show up every rehearsal, and they are long, intensive evening/nights. I’ve watched the group be silly together, be real together, be happy for one another and feel the pain, the anger, the fear, and the hope for one another. It’s been nothing short of a truly incredible, potentially perspective-shifting, gift every step of the way. The nights I didn’t want to show up and went anyway. The exercises I didn’t want to do and did anyway. The character I didn’t want to accept and took anyway. The outfit I don’t want to wear and might wear anyway. Somewhere along the way, I’ve become part of this group. I still hold perspective of the scene, except when I am in character. I cannot explain it more than this: Belle does exactly what I do by keeping an outside eye on the scene. When I am Belle, I lose my perspective of reality. My reality is her reality and she holds the energy for both of us. It has been a long time since I have felt as connected or at-ease within a group of people in the real world.

There are no words to adequately describe the power and presence of growth and potential happening right now in Recovery Through Performance. I was a hopeful skeptic of this endeavor from day one. I needed something big to shake my rocky recovery into transformation. Life, as I know it, is being rocked. I am having feelings for people that I am getting to know. Simultaneously I am allowing myself to mourn a life I am letting go. It is not black and white, not all or nothing, but there is movement, and my perspective is growing a bit more with each step forward. A saying we’ve heard often from Laura is, “Yes, and…” What if I lived life more like that? Yes, and… Yes, I like your idea and… Yes, I want to go with you and… Yes, I’d love to meet for dinner and… Yes, I will answer your question and… Yes, I will cover your shift and… Yes, I will try something new and… Yes, even though I’m scared and…

Twin Falls is about perseverance and connection. It is about falling and taking the risk to get back up. It is about trusting the journey and trusting each other. It is about not just finding a community, but building community.

The coolest part about it, from my perspective, is that what is being acted on stage parallels what’s happening off-stage… not just for the cast, but I believe for anyone brave enough to wholly participate in life. Because no matter who you are or what your story is, you know what it feels like to fall. In this performance, that simple reality becomes the multi-faceted, complex and complicated journey of acceptance, pain, connection, and a window into the other side.

Katie S.

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