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Self Care in the Theater

This weekend I attended a POC healing night for artists and activists in Boston put together by a dear friend of mine, Lauren Miller, who works in Community Engagement and is an Administrative Manager at Company One Theater in Boston. This event was constructed in three parts: a session of reconstructive yoga, a group listen to Solange Knowles’s new album ”A Seat At the Table”, and then a conversation about self care. Although this group was not specifically artists, a lot were and the conversation turned to ways in which we as politically savvy artists enter into the space in a healthy way. I also learned about an event happening this weekend at Bridge Repertory Theater that includes a session of yoga and viewpoints to “clear our mind of chatter so that we can be available to listen to our emotional and intuitive impulses”

Personally, I feel like conversations of self-care always happen too late. It is not built into our social fabric to think of ourselves first. We are trained to learn and work and be busy and work some more and go out and explore and learn and work and feed ourselves and be healthy and learn and work and be curious and work, etc. But we are not taught the intricacies of our being so as to utilize the tools around us to help feed us, to care for ourselves. It is expect that those lesson are taught in the household, in school, or after when rock bottom is inches away. The truth is that is not the case for a wide spread of people. In the theater we are taught to give ourselves over to the art, access our raw material, be vulnerable, be a servant to the work but I ask, when do we care for ourselves? What if the act of self sacrificing for a role actually requires the time and space to recover from the role but the demands of a BFA or a 9 to 5 job to pay the bills does not allow space for that to happen?

I truly believe that it is imperative that institutions of art making focus as much on the process of “becoming” as they do on the process of “undoing” from a production. I believe strongly in the need for classes and workshops to address this issue of self-care in light of preserving our vessel of expression. I think it is ridiculous to believe that the trauma and shocks endured by the body to create a masterful work are dissipated as easily as a curtain drop.

Self care is not selfishness, it is not weakness. In the words of political activist, writer, and feminist Audre Lorde “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” To care for ones wellbeing is a commitment to this work as growth and therapeutic instead of a commitment to a burnout. The event this weekend was a reminder that this is an issue we all go through and one that needs to be addressed. I now percolating how I can serve my Boston University to help promote conversations and events that encompass this idea.

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