Bring Other People’s Stories to Life with Your Creativity and Passion
DateSeptember 1, 2022
Across the river from Ottawa, Ontario is the Canadian city of Gatineau, where seven people of differing origins – Senegalese, Moroccan, French, Lebanese, Greek, Canadian-Québécois – came together on the night of April 27, 2022 to perform personal stories with confidence. The group was led by Denis Chouinard, who previously served as a counselor for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC and who graduated from The Theatre Lab’s Life Stories® Institute (LSI) in 2020. Using drama activities, teaching skills, and practical advice from his LSI training, Denis recruited performers, held rehearsals, and put on a show.
Denis said, “We rediscovered the love of those close to us. And I saw that the theme of trust was coming back. Trust in ourselves, trust in our family, trust in our choices.”
That same month, nearly 600 miles away, two Life Stories® teaching artists guided students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School through exercises to enact memories from their childhood on stage and envision new futures. And online, families from across the United States with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors gathered on Zoom with Life Stories teachers to play improv games – enabling family members to live in the present moment and find humor, joy, and connection.
These three programs and countless more are possible because of the graduates of the Life Stories® Institute. Life Stories is The Theatre Lab’s pioneering, tuition-free outreach program that provides life-changing opportunities for dramatic self-expression to hundreds of youth and adults each year, and the Life Stories Institute (LSI) trains people to facilitate these programs in their own communities.
Our upcoming Life Stories Institute, a four-day intensive, held online from October 13-16, 2022, teaches techniques and structures for helping people to share their real-life experiences through original works of dramatic art, and features personalized instruction and applied learning. No experience in either acting or social services is required.
Students will connect with a small group of peers, apply their skills in engaging activities, take part in Q&A panels with Life Stories teachers working in the field, and finally develop a lesson plan that they will demo with their peers for feedback and reflection. At the end of the four days, each student will have their own personalized framework that can be used to launch an initial program. The Institute includes unlimited access to the on-demand LSI online course, which students are asked to complete before attending the synchronized sessions.
Any adult can take part in the self-paced online LSI curriculum, available via Udemy. In the online course, students will learn the main ideas and techniques underlying the synchronized training, including theatre games and exercises, best practices for creating sustainable projects, how to engage a community to take advantage of a new program, and tactics for financing and maintaining offerings. With 2.5 hours of video content, 12 articles, and 8 downloadable resources available to explore with unlimited access, on-demand LSI students will gain a solid foundation of the Life Stories methodology.
The potential Life Stories programs are limitless. In the most recent LSI training, student vocational backgrounds included yoga teacher, musician, high school educator, actor, and journalist. And since inception, LSI graduates have included therapists, retirees, philanthropists, educational administrators, members of the clergy, visual artists, tech workers, international travelers, activists, veterans, parents, and more.
To learn more about the Life Stories Institute, visit our website, or contact us with any questions.
Photo credit: Denis Chouinard