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Education @ Roundabout

 

Kate Walsh, Steven Levenson and Jeremy Shamos in rehearsal for IF I FORGET. Photo by
Jenny Anderson.

On February 18, 2017, Steven Levenson spoke about If I Forget with education dramaturg Ted Sod as part of Roundabout Theatre Company’s lecture series. An edited transcript follows.

Ted Sod: When I interviewed Steven for the Upstage Playgoers Guide — and I hope you will access it online — he told me that the inspiration for this play was this question: What does it mean to be an American Jew in the 21st century? Steven, will you tell us why that question haunted you and prompted this play?
Steven Levenson: I was interested in what it means to be Jewish now, almost eighty years after the Holocaust. And more specifically, what it means to be a secular Jew in a country where bagels outsell doughnuts, where our food, our culture, and our sense of humor as Americans, all of these are just incredibly Jewish. And so, what is left? What does the phrase “culturally Jewish” – which is how I have always described myself – what does that even mean in a country whose culture is already so undeniably Jewish? At what point does “culturally Jewish” just mean “mainstream American”? Those were really the questions I wanted to consider. And for many non-observant or semi-observant Jews, the answer of what sets us apart has become Israel, an unwavering support for the state of Israel. Looking back at the year 2000, it felt like so much of the Judaism that I had grown up with – which was rooted in the celebration of Israel and a belief in a two-state solution – began to change. There is something about the year 2000 and the collapse of the Camp David talks that really feels in hindsight like the beginning of the end. That was the last point in time where the liberal American dream of peace in the Middle East, the co-existence of Israelis and Palestinians, still seemed tenable. And that, for me, was really a sad and disillusioning moment. I now have a 16-month-old daughter and a question I think about all the time is, what am I going to pass onto her? Is it merely respect for the tradition she comes from? As a parent, you are forced to ask yourself, what do I believe? What is valuable to me in what I’ve inherited? These are hard questions, but they have more and more resonance for me.

TS: When you understood the story you were telling, how did you develop Michael’s perspective?
SL:  Michael is not based on one specific person or case, but I did do a lot of research into academics who have lost their positions in recent years because of their critical views on Israel. I thought that was a fascinating phenomenon and I hadn’t seen a lot of discussion of it. In terms of thinking about Michael’s specific perspective on these issues, I decided the thing I was most interested in discussing in this play was memory – not just our personal memory, but historical memory, cultural memory. How do we remember both as individuals and as part of a larger group, as a family or as Jews or as Americans? Is remembering necessarily a good thing, in all cases? In what ways can our remembering be exploited for political purposes? It seemed to be the most dramatically compelling choice to give Michael the most extreme position possible and a position that was polarizing. I don’t expect the audience to agree with what Michael is saying. I don’t agree with what Michael is saying. Michael is voicing a provocative argument – what would it mean to forget all of the negative things that have happened and start over. And he, of course, pursues that from a left-leaning perspective. But I do think there’s a real desire on both sides of the political spectrum to want to forget the things that are traumatic in our past and to want to pretend that the bad parts of history never happened. As the play developed, it became a lot about how Michael’s academic and political views about forgetting were inextricably bound up with his relationship to his family and his wanting to forget his own guilt and responsibility toward his parents. My parents are getting older and the idea of what we owe our parents, and the people that have come before us in general, has become an increasingly important question to me. Michael is somebody that just refuses that responsibility. Yes, it’s a petulant response but I think it’s an understandable response as well. There’s something suffocating about his family and feeling responsible. He just doesn’t want to feel responsible.

TS: The part of Michael’s perspective that resonated with me is his idea that the Holocaust is being used to emotionally manipulate you if you’re Jewish. I started to think about ways that I feel emotionally manipulated being part of the gay community. And I feel manipulated at times when the talk turns to AIDS. I wonder how women feel when people – men especially — start talking about outlawing abortion or that they want to close down Planned Parenthood. I think they must feel emotionally manipulated when comments like these are being made.
SL: I think Michael wants freedom from everything. He wants to be unburdened. There’s the famous line from Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost: “I will not serve.” I always think about that when it comes to Michael’s perspective. He will not serve. He refuses to be subservient to anything other than himself in some ways, except, I suppose, when it comes to his daughter, Abby. That’s a bit of a twist. In terms of manipulation, something that I was conscious of while I was growing up is being saturated with images of the Holocaust. To the point where I began to lose the immediacy and the horror of it. When Michael’s father, Lou, tells the story of what happened at Dachau — which is all based on true events — when I researched those events, it was the first time in a while that I read something I didn’t know about the Holocaust and that I found horrifying in a very visceral way. Maybe it’s because of our media culture. It feels like we are in danger of losing the real human horror of war and catastrophe. You just become numb to it. You start to feel like you’ve seen all of these images before. They’re almost clichés. Even today when you see images of what is happening in Syria on the news it begins to feel like – you can almost feel your brain assimilating the information, making sense of it. I wanted Lou’s speech to bring up images that we’d be unable to assimilate, that we’d be unable to make sense of rationally.

TS: That speech about Dachau that Lou delivers to Michael is just devastating. I was hit emotionally by it. How did you come about writing that?
SL: A lot of this play was written around the time that my mother found all of these letters that my grandfather had written home when he was serving in World War II in the Army. He’s no longer with us, so I couldn’t ask him about these things, but I know that he was there for the liberation of at least one of the camps in Europe. He would write to his mother and you can see in his letters that he just couldn’t bring himself to tell her the things that he was seeing – he hints at them, he makes very subtle references to the horrific things he’s witnessed, but he won’t go further than that. It’s all buried, but it’s there, between the lines. It was fascinating to read those letters. It made me think of what it must have been like to be a soldier, nineteen years old, and to walk into a concentration camp, with absolutely no context for what you were about to see. I don’t remember how I first uncovered the Dachau story, but it somehow delivered that same feeling to me – it brought me face to face with something for which I had no name. The stories I had always been told about the Holocaust involve nameless, faceless victims. What I found so gripping about the Dachau story was that these people who had been so dehumanized and had everything taken away from them had their power restored. It’s ugly and it’s brutal and it’s hard to listen to but it’s real. It made all of those victims into people again for me, and it brought home the horror of what they had experienced.

TS: What about Michael’s two sisters, Holly and Sharon? How did you develop those characters? They’re remarkably different in my mind. Do you feel that way?
SL: Yes, but I feel like they’re both products of this family. The important thing about Sharon is that she is much younger than her siblings. And so there’s a constant sense of her being left out. She doesn’t remember things in the same way that they do because her parents were a different age when she was growing up. I liked the idea that Sharon constantly feels a sense of wanting to belong and wanting ownership and wanting her parents’ affection. Michael was the mom’s favorite and Sharon spent years trying to get her mother to love her more. She gives up so much to get her mother to love her more somehow, which is obviously incredibly sad and incredibly human.

TS: And Holly has a real glamor about her. She’s put-together.
SL: She is put-together. She feels a little bit above everybody else and that’s her defense mechanism.

TS: I don’t think she deals with fools very well.
SL: No, she’s tough. I imagine Holly being a lot like her mother. You know, a “pistol.” That’s probably not a Jewish expression…

TS: Well, it can be.
SL: Yes, I guess so.

TS: I also want to address Howard – Holly’s husband — for whom the word “schmuck” comes to mind.
SL: Yes, that’s a good one.

TS: But I believe him when he says, “I thought I was helping her.”
SL: Yes.

TS: Maybe there was sex once or twice, but he really was trying to be a mensch.
SL: Absolutely.

TS: And then he gets screwed.
SL: I like that character a lot. He really is, in some strange way, an innocent. I have a lot of affection for all of these people.

TS: But he really is an outsider in this family.
SL: He is, totally. He doesn’t get the rhythms of everybody else. He’s always entering conversations at the wrong time and saying the wrong thing.

TS: I also love the through line of Joey, Holly’s son. I’m sure this is not true, but I immediately thought Joey must be a stand-in for you because you were same age when the play happens.
SL: Oh, that’s so interesting.

TS: Joey shows such heart at the end. Such inquisitiveness. I thought, isn’t it interesting that Joey doesn’t talk this way to his mom and stepfather but rather to his uncle — who is obviously the smartest and the most educated in the family.
SL: Yes. Joey is a little bit of an enigma. There’s a bit of hope with him at the end. At least, there is for me. I think when he says of Abby, “She’s my family,” maybe that is a change in Joey. There seems to be an appreciation for family or an affection that’s real for him and not tarnished by history.

TS: I want to talk about Abby, Michael’s daughter, too. She’s such a vital off-stage character. I know she made an appearance in one of the earlier drafts. Will you talk to us about Jerusalem syndrome, because that’s what she experiences. I’m learning from people I engage with that it’s more common than we think.
SL: Well, when Michael says, “There are 100 to 150 cases of Jerusalem Syndrome a year,” that is a real statistic that I found. Abby was a really interesting experiment for me because when I tried to write her into the play, I always found her less interesting than I imagined her to be. It’s one of those weird things you learn writing, where sometimes an offstage character is more three-dimensional by not being present. I just could not get my head around that character on stage and yet, off stage, I totally get her. Michael believes that history is arbitrary and you can choose to remember or forget, it’s up to you. And Joey talks about who remembers once everybody has stopped remembering. There’s something about Jerusalem syndrome that seems to speak to there being a memory that’s bigger than any of us, that defies our intellect. I mean in a mystical sense. Maybe there is a divinity in the world or memories stored in the land itself. And that’s her vision at the end — the idea that the land remembers. It all disappears and yet it’s all there.

TS: It made me think of the term atavistic memory, which is not something that I completely understand. But is that what you think it is?
SL: In rehearsal Daniel Sullivan, our director, asked me a lot about that final speech and I’ve always been hesitant to talk too much about what I think it is because it’s a little mysterious to me too. So much of what I was interested in while writing this play was the idea of trauma as something that we inherit through the generations, almost on a cellular level. The ancestors of these characters and my own ancestors fled persecution and mass murder and genocide and so I’m interested in asking, what does that do to us, what effect does that have on us in the present? Do we bear some trace of that somehow? Do those memories live inside of us somewhere?

Steven Levenson and Daniel Sullivan in rehearsal for IF I FORGET. Photo by Jenny Anderson.

TS: Will you tell the audience about your collaboration with director Daniel Sullivan?
SL: Dan has been an incredible collaborator. I knew I wanted a director who had a lot of experience, both in terms of directing obviously, and just life experience. I felt a little nervous writing a character like Lou, for instance, who is so much older than I am. I knew Dan would tell me if I was telling the truth or not, if I was getting it right. Dan has also just done a tremendous amount of work. So many of the great plays of the last 20 or 30 years, he has helmed and developed. Working with him has always been a dream of mine. I have to say, I’ve never worked with anyone quite like Dan. He doesn’t say a lot. He is a very quiet guy. And then he’ll just come out with something that is like a Zen koan, in its piercing simplicity. He’ll get right at the heart of the matter in terms of the writing or the performances with one sentence. It’s incredible.

Audience question #1: What would you say each character wants?
SL: I actually think they all want the same thing. They all want recognition and validation. That may sound like a simple idea or trite, but I think all of them are just asking for the people around them to say, “I love you.” Holly wants to prove to everyone that she’s a good mom and that she’s raising her son right. She wants to prove that her ideas are smart and valid. Howard is constantly trying to show Michael that he’s an intellectual too and that he can get on his level. I think Michael is constantly trying to win the affection of his dad but he’s also pushing him away. And I think Sharon wants credit. I think she really wants credit for all that she’s done and all that she’s given up. They all want things that aren’t attainable because they all want recognition or love, in one form or another, and how do you measure that?

Audience question #2: I loved the play and I especially like the direction. I found that to be so real. But I have to say you lost me in that last five minutes.
TS: You’re talking about when the play becomes a bit more poetic?
Audience question #2: Yes.
SL: I totally hear what you’re saying. I get your confusion. It’s tricky. I wanted the end to get cosmic and not be part of the natural world.
TS: It’s stylistically different from the rest of the play.
SL: It is.
TS: And for me it makes us realize that we’re all going to become dust whether we want to accept that reality or not.
SL: The play hopefully operates on a personal, political and a historical level, and then the ending moves into something that operates on a higher level than any of those things. It’s the eternal, I suppose.

Audience question #3: What issues would be lost by setting the play in the present versus 2000 and 2001.
SL: I really like setting things in another time because I find that it’s very difficult for contemporary plays to actually speak to contemporary issues. It’s a strange paradox. It’s really a trick that Brecht invented – he realized that the best way to illuminate the present was by setting his plays in the past. There’s something about that juxtaposition that allows us to see the present in a new way. It sharpens our perspective. I would also say that the play, when I wrote it, was not meant to be quite as reflective of the present as it has become. Frankly, it was a lot less relevant six months ago. It was a lot more like a period piece last August and now the issues in the play have obviously taken on much more resonance. There’s something about the 2016 and 2000 elections that feels like deja vu. It feels like we’re living through a similar moment where history seemed to be going in one direction and then suddenly it swerved.

Audience question #4: I was wondering if it was intentional assigning non-traditional Jewish names to pretty much all of the characters?
TS:  But I know a lot of Jewish women named Sharon.
SL:  It’s funny, I have a distant cousin named Holly. Names of characters are a mysterious thing — it takes me a really long time — I come up with names before I start writing usually. Some playwrights call their characters A, B, C, until they decide on their names — but, for me, there’s something very powerful about a name that just crystallizes someone’s identity. I can’t get inside of a character’s head until I know a character’s name. These names felt right for the characters I was writing.

Audience question #5: What would you say each character wants?
SL: I think it’s open-ended and I don’t really mind if some people like it and some people don’t. Ultimately, it’s sort of a taste thing.
TS: And truth be told, the ending has changed.
SL: The ending did change. It used to be that Lou voiced the entire vision, but then it felt interesting to have it be a little bit more global.

Audience question #6: Everybody in the play is concerned about what it means to be Jewish, but Michael’s the most passionately Jewish person on the stage, even though he describes himself as an atheist?
SL: That’s absolutely right – I haven’t thought about it that way – but of course that’s true. Michael is the most Jewish in his relentless fixation on Judaism and also his endless questioning. Part of what I respect about that character is that he is relentless in searching for what it means to be Jewish in a way that Holly, for instance, just doesn’t care.
TS: Something that both you and Dan said to me in interviews was that conversations like the ones in this play happen around the dinner and kitchen tables of a lot of Jewish families, but have never really been put on stage.
SL: Well, that was one of the impulses — to air that dirty laundry. The issue of Israel comes up at every Thanksgiving and Seder. And it can get quite heated. My wife isn’t Jewish and the first time she came to our house and had dinner with all of us, she thought she had witnessed the end of our family. And we were just onto dessert. That’s the pitch at which this family operates, too. So I come by it honestly.


If I Forget is now playing at the Laura Pels Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre. Visit our website for tickets and more information.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Education @ Roundabout, If I Forget


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Arthur Miller’s THE PRICE: Interview with Director Terry Kinney

Posted on: March 20th, 2017 by Roundabout

 

Terry Kinney

Ted Sod: Where were you born and educated? How did you become an actor and a director in the theatre? Did you have any teachers who had a profound influence on you?
Terry Kinney: I grew up in a town called Lincoln, Illinois, which is in central Illinois near the state capitol of Springfield. There was not much exposure to theatre in Lincoln. I was peripherally involved in theatre until I went to Illinois State. I went in as a psychology major. But on the first day of school, someone told me they were handing out tuition waivers if you had an audition piece. I had one monologue semi-memorized from my speech team days, so I went to the tryouts and I got in. This was a fairly new department at the time. It had about 280 undergrads and 100 graduate students. They were all very serious about theatre, and that’s where I met John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf and Jeff Perry. The training there was really just doing plays. They kept the theatre open 24 hours a day and you could rehearse and put on shows on the weekend, which became the impetus for us starting Steppenwolf Theatre after we graduated. The teachers there were all remarkable and had a great influence on me. Most notably, Calvin Pritner taught me a lot about acting and spoke not only about objectives, but also really stressed “given circumstances.” He had a very straightforward approach toward it. He used a lot of baseball metaphors. I had a directing teacher named Don LaCasse, who was integral in helping me understand how to take apart a play before I started working on it. He also taught me how to do a deep analysis of the architecture of a play and common sense blocking.

TS: Why did you choose to direct Arthur Miller’s The Price? Does the play have personal resonance for you?
TK: Miller has always been my favorite American playwright, and The Price has always been very special to me since the first time I read it. I thought it was so different from many of Miller’s other plays. It seemed more personal. It felt like he was writing about his own life. I had no evidence of that, and in fact Miller has denied it, but it’s what I felt. Having a brother and older parents, the play has become more and more important to me. Every time I read it, it still moves me deeply. It makes me wonder about the aspects of our memories, and how we fashion ourselves into the protagonists of our own life stories. How we assign villains in our lives. How things that we can’t take responsibility for, we assign to others. That metaphor resonates with me greatly and always has.

Photo by Joan Marcus

TS: How did you prepare to direct this play? Can you give us some insight into your process?
TK: When actors get in a rehearsal room, everything changes, and I like to allow for that. I really want ideas to flow, and that will dictate the direction of where we take the story. On the other hand, I prepare a lot. I try to do exhaustive research, you know, the time period, all that entails. I might let go of some of my preparation once we’re all together, but I’ll hang on to some of it. I inform myself by reading the play obsessively. I read it over and over to the point where I really know what’s going to be on the next page. I don’t pre-block a great deal because I don’t want to lay that on the actors. I usually have a clear notion of how I want to stage it, but the marriage of my ideas and the actors’ impulses is what make a production far more nuanced and richer. The design elements — the set, the lights, the sound and composition of music — all of that goes into the preparation of any piece I direct. I would say the preparation I do is thorough, but it’s also open. It’s open to changes that will naturally develop.

TS: How do you understand the relationship between Victor and his brother Walter?
TK: It’s like a lot of sibling relationships. Their perceptions of how their family operated and how they fit into that family — who they were to each other — has a lot of personal stinging truth and also a lot of fabrication. I’m talking about the kind of memories that you fabricate to protect yourself from your own responsibilities. These two guys are estranged because neither of them have the courage to face what really happened to their family. It was awful, and they had opposite impulses of how to deal with it. Victor martyred himself and has never been able to admit that he did it because of how he felt about himself. He was convinced it was his destiny. He sees himself as a loser. Walter, on the other hand, had a great deal of ambition. He wanted to feel free to make his own choices, and he wanted to be free from responsibility for his father and brother. Everything in that part of Walter’s nature aided him until he broke down. After his breakdown, he continues to struggle with his old nature and has a great deal of anxiety because of it.

TS: I also want to ask about the marriage between Esther and Victor. Do you think that it’s a healthy marriage?
TK: I think it’s a complicated marriage as so many marriages are. It’s been a long-term marriage with not a lot of money, and you know how that is. Esther has wanted enough money to feel comfortable and happy, the way she imagines others feel. She thinks that money will fix things, and she’s turned to alcohol to assuage her disappointments. They love each other a lot, and they don’t communicate very effectively anymore because they see the world quite differently. They put a lot of energy into their son, Richard, but now that he’s gone out of the house, what Esther would love is to reform Victor into someone that he had the potential to be before he turned to the police force. Victor thinks it’s just too late. Do I think they are in deep trouble as a married couple? I can’t say. I think the actors will have a better idea of that. I think the way we want to play this relationship is that there is a great deal of love between them and they still wow each other when they look at each other. They still are very attracted to each other.

Photo by Jenny Anderson

TS: What about the character of Solomon — do you think he’s in the play to remind the Franz brothers and Esther of where they came from?
TK: That’s very interesting. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I think that what Miller’s doing with Solomon — and his name is no mistake — is to bring into the conflict a person who’s seen it all, who has survived it all, who keeps going, and who sees both sides. When you see both sides of an argument, you realize there is absolutely no right or no wrong. It’s all a gray area. I think Solomon knows that. I’m excited about what Danny DeVito will bring to the role.

TS: What type of actors did you need for the rest of this cast?
TK: With Victor, I wanted someone with a quiet intensity who was compelling even when he wasn’t saying anything. A man who makes you want to know what he is thinking. I wanted a good listener and someone with gravitas. I wanted a man who understands personal pain and cost. That’s a tall order, and we are so lucky to have Mark Ruffalo in the role. Walter is a character who walks in and the audience has heard so much about him that they are prepared to dislike him. Well, that’s not the way Miller saw it — he wanted both arguments to be given equal weight. I needed someone who is charming and who can access a deep well of feelings. A person who is gentle and can explain why we choose the life we choose. Tony Shalhoub has all of that depth of feeling. The character of Esther, which sometimes gets short shrift in the analysis of the play, is a woman who is patient and understanding, and yet she bristles against all the misogyny in her world. She is angered by the men in society who parse out wealth to the few that they feel deserve it. She’s a loving woman and yet very frustrated by her plight, and it requires an actress with a great deal of heart and skill. That’s why I’ve asked Jessica Hecht to play it.

TS: Do you have any advice for young people who say they want to direct for the theatre?
TK: My advice is don’t let anybody talk you out of it. Hopefully, you are aware that you aren’t going to make money. Making money is not why you should be doing theatre to begin with. If you want to direct, go out and find friends and a room to do it in and direct. Nobody can really stop you from doing that. That’s how Steppenwolf Theatre was born. What we wanted was to just make art together. We were in the church basement, and nobody gave a shit.

TS: What keeps you inspired as an artist?
TK: I like truth. I like things that take me unaware, things that don’t reflect my daily life but shed light on it through metaphor and image. I’m inspired by music all the time, and I listen to a lot of it. When I work on a play, I listen to music constantly. There’s a musicality to language that’s essential to every play that I direct, and I like to find that musicality in the music I listen to. I’m inspired by everybody who is brave enough to make art because I think it requires a great deal of bravery. Every time I go to see something — whether it be theatre, opera, or the Philharmonic — I constantly find myself filled with the same wonder that I had the first time I ever saw any kind of art. I’m in awe of how they do it. I’m not the least bit jaded when I go to theatre. I’m not overly critical. I am a perpetual amateur. It serves me well to retain that status because I still find wonder in each moment that we build together as artists. When you build something and it works and everybody in the room knows it’s working — that’s just an incredible feeling.


Arthur Miller's The Price is now playing at the American Airlines Theatre. Visit our website for tickets and more information.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Arthur Miller's The Price, Education @ Roundabout, Upstage


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On The Exhale: Trauma and the Brain

Posted on: March 17th, 2017 by Roundabout

 

Trauma is the Greek word for “wound.” In ancient time it referred to a physical wound, but today trauma is also understood as an emotional wound.

Experiencing a traumatic event changes the chemistry of our body and brain. These changes can remain long after the event has ended.

There are two types of traumatic events. In an acute traumatic event, someone experiences a serious injury or the injury or death of another person, or the threat of death or serious injury. Violations of personal physical integrity, like rape or sexual assault, are also acute traumatic events. Chronic traumatic situations happen repeatedly over longer periods of time and include being exposed to domestic violence, living through a war, and some bullying.

The human brain is the most complex system known. It has three main parts.

  • The brainstem, the most primitive part of the brain, controls the basics like breathing, eating, sleeping, and survival instincts.
  • The limbic or midbrain processes emotions and controls how we perceive the world around us. The amygdala, which controls our sense of danger and safety and triggers the release of stress hormones, is part of the limbic brain.
  • The cortex, the frontal and outer parts of our brain, is sometimes called the rational or cognitive brain. It controls language, empathy, learning, organization, and inhibition of inappropriate behaviors.

Fight of flight.

During a traumatic event, the limbic brain takes in sensory information from the body and sends it in two directions, to both the amygdala and to the frontal lobes of the cortex. The amygdala receives the information sooner and makes a snap judgement as to whether or not a situation is dangerous. In a potentially dangerous situation, the amygdala tells the hypothalamus and brainstem to secrete stress hormones. These hormones prepare the body for fight or flight: bronchial tubes and pupils dilate, digestion slows, muscles contract, heart and respiration rates increase. If fight or flight is impossible, the brainstem will trigger a freeze or collapse response. Processes not necessary for survival shut down. The cortex, the thinking brain, is disconnected from the limbic brain and essentially turned off.

Because of this disconnect, the human brain struggles to consolidate memories and emotions into a coherent narrative after a traumatic situation, which is necessary for working through a trauma. The areas of the brain responsible for understanding time and place are bypassed, explaining the woman in On the Exhale’s inability to process what happened in her son’s classroom. Trauma is remembered as disconnected images and sensations.

In some cases individuals experience flashbacks of the trauma, or dissociate completely, unable to connect with either their emotions or their everyday life. The woman in On the Exhale seeks the rush of firing the gun, suggesting that she may be having a dissociating response.

Marin Ireland in ON THE EXHALE. Photo by Joan Marcus.

After trauma, the amygdala, which warns of danger, can go into overdrive and trigger release of stress hormones in non-threatening situations. This can cause emotional and psychological problems, as well as physical symptoms like high blood pressure and digestive issues. In recent years, scientists have shown that trauma symptoms lessen if treatment includes a somatic, or body-based, component. Movement and breathing exercises like yoga, or group rhythm activities like dance or choral singing, send information from the body back to brain, signaling safety and calm. Over time, these practices can help create new patterns and physical responses in individuals who have experienced trauma.

 

 


On the Exhale is now playing at the Black Box Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre. Visit our website for tickets and more information.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Education @ Roundabout, On the Exhale, Roundabout Underground, Upstage


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