Using Fear

Have you been made afraid of something lately? 

That fear probably gave you a new perspective, whether it be positive or negative. Fear is a palpable, controlling force in today’s culture; sometimes, a harbinger of change. Last summer, in the throes of the pandemic, fear was a consequence of living. 

I was teaching a summer theatre camp (virtually, of course) to elementary-age students. Kids are easier to drive the fear out of, but it lingers. It’s around them - influencing them, tensing their every moment, out of their control.

So, I asked the kids. “What are you afraid of right now? Tell me your story.”

“The dark!”
“Being alone.”
“That crunchy sound bags make.”

Why did I choose to icebreak with stories centered around 'fear?' Consider this thought from a post-9/11 essay by Augusto Boal: 

"Truth is therapeutic: doing Theatre of the Oppressed, I could understand the awesome power of the pedagogy of fear - young people learning to see the world beyond their frontiers... Truth is therapeutic: young people, using theatre, dialogue, wanted to conquer it" (Games for Actors and Non-Actors, p. 300).

I was under no illusion that I’d be undoing trauma in the camp (and I'm not a drama therapist) - but if we can make one kid a bit less scared of, say, being alone with crunchy clowns in the dark - why not?

Don’t be afraid to open up the dialogue. Your community (whatever it is!) yearning to speak their truths, their desires, their fears. 

Sometimes, you need to help others become the hero of their own story.

Dakotah James

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