Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Telling Stories

Telling stories is powerful.

This is something I’ve known for a long time, of course. I wouldn’t have dedicated the last fifteen years of my life to making plays and novels otherwise. But the point has been starkly illustrated in my own life recently as Live Girls Theater produces my play Blood/Water/Paint. I wrote about the play’s long journey to production here.

Simply put, it is the story of my deepest pain. And to watch as a tremendous group of artists honors that story with their time and their talents has been tremendously validating.

Daniel Christensen and Alex Highsmith in Blood/Water/Paint
at Live Girls Theater, Joe Iano Photography

Especially with stories of sexual abuse and assault there is so much invalidation. The disbelief, the flat-out accusation of lies, the fear or shame around telling one’s story. And not everyone is willing or able to tell their story to their loved ones or authorities. But they still deserve to be heard, and have their story believed and honored the way Live Girls is currently honoring my story.

So I want to begin to gather the stories of other survivors of sexual abuse, assault, harassment, incest. My goal is to ultimately take these stories and create a documentary theater piece in the style of Twilight: Los Angeles or The Laramie Project, using the actual words you use as you tell me your stories.

I don’t yet know what the play will look like, exactly, at this point. I’m just in the earliest stages of gathering the stories. I’m not even sure what the story-gathering will look like yet. I think, as much as possible, I’d love to do in person interviews, recorded with permission to use the subject’s exact words. For those not in the area, or not comfortable with an in-person interview, I will develop a written questionnaire. And perhaps Skype/Facetime can play a role.

At this point, I’m gathering interest – people who would like to share their stories with me, to have their stories honored as source materials in a documentary-style play. So if that sounds like something you’re interested in, email me at painttheblood@gmail.com . Let me know if you’re in the Seattle area and would be comfortable with an in-person interview. If not, let me know if you’d be open to video interview, or if you’d prefer only written communication.

Around mid-March, I will begin contacting people, with questions and logistical details worked out. Please share this with anyone you think might connect with the mission and would like to have their story honored. I would love to reach well outside my own circle of friends. So many people have stories to tell. I’d love to help find an audience for those stories.

Thank you for your courage as you even consider sharing your story.