The Power of Stories

Sarasvàti Productions is excited to be working in partnership with so many amazing groups as part of the current community-based Mental Health Project. It is our first time working with Red Threads of Peace Project. They are a playback theatre troupe in Winnipeg. Their diverse community of actors, musicians and facilitators do workshop facilitation and community performances with a goal of allowing people to see their own stories played out for them. Here is their report on the project to date:

SMHC PlaybackSelkirk Mental Health Centre, in partnership with Artists in Healthcare and Gas Station Arts Centre programs, generously welcomed Red Threads of Peace Project facilitators Bequie Lake and Dana Rungay along with movement therapist Karissa Martens to do “Playback Tuesdays.” Cairn Moore of Sarasvàti Productions also attended the sessions as a writer and observer. The project kicked off with a playback performance on September 22 followed by one hour playback theatre workshops for six weeks in each of the health centre areas. The final performance will be November 10th. The Red Threads performers included: Elena Anciro, Nick Kowalchuk, Bequie Lake, Dawn Lavand, Loc Lu, Dana Rungay and Martial Tougas.

The participation of the patients and staff has been heartwarming. The groups warm up with movement to their choice of music from Karissa’s huge repertoire – and if Karissa doesn’t have it this week, she gets it for you next week! This individual attention and caring is really appreciated by the patients. Theatre games then build group safety, confidence and esprit de corps between the patients, staff and facilitators. Moments and experiences of the participants are offered for playback in one of the playback forms.

Participants tell of past experiences and present day happenings and feelings. Playback Theatre honours the individual voices in the group through the simple improvisational performance. Often these stories resonate with other members of the group. It’s gratifying to see the patients enjoying their involvement; seeing their story performed; or playing the music; or performing with the troupe. Several patients and staff have spoken about how much having Playback Tuesdays has meant to their well-being and the need for these types of programs in the health centre.

All of the moments, experiences and stories shared in the groups, stay in the groups. “Playback Tuesdays” has deepened our awareness, insight, understanding and compassion of issues in mental health.

Sarasvàti Productions is so pleased to hear about the impact of this work and to have had Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre, travel out to Selkirk to sit down and do individual interviews with the Geriatric and Acquired Brain Injury Programs. Since it is difficult for these patients to participate in the group sessions, it has been a wonderful way to make sure they are also included. She’s been touched by this amazing group of individuals and their stories. Upon thanking one individual he said “we should thank you for letting us get it out.” This is the hope for this phase of the project, a chance to share, be heard and have some fun. Another has shared after playback sessions – “on this side of the wall is joy and on the other side tedium and boredom.”

All of this work, plus workshops and interviews in Winnipeg, will be compiled by Sarasvàti Productions and put in to script format for a workshop presentation in May! The challenge will be to reflect so many powerful stories and insights! If you want to participate join our open sessions in November – check out details here!

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