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Turning People's Stories into Theater


As the central component of the School for Social Work’s summer symposium on antiracism, True Story Theater will visit Smith on Monday, July 16, to transform people’s stories into symbolic live theater.

True Story Theater is performance ensemble based in Arlington, Mass., that uses people’s personal narratives to spontaneously create theater pieces that promote understanding and social healing. The troupe of 16 performers includes actors, counselors and educators, activists, health care professionals, musicians and artists.

The company’s performance will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage. Small-group discussions will follow from 9 to 10 p.m. in the Campus Center Carroll Room. The event is open to the School for Social Work community.

True Story Theater bases its performances on the tradition of Playback Theatre, an improvisational model used around the world to reach disenfranchised people and to build understanding where conflict had driven people apart. The theater model is influenced by storytelling, traditional community rituals and the psychodrama of J.L. Moreno.

Like Playback Theatre, True Story Theater emphasizes the importance of hearing all stories, however ordinary, extraordinary, difficult or joyful.

In addition to the True Story Theater performance, the school’s antiracism symposium includes ongoing presentations, workshops and meetings throughout the summer.


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