It’s time to answer a question we get a lot about THE HUMAN JOURNEY®, especially when we tell people they can think of it as a work of “applied theatre.”
Oh! (People say.)
Do people play characters then?
Is it like role-play?
In a word (five, really, but I’ve got the British on my mind), it’s actually just the opposite.
THE HUMAN JOURNEY® carefully invites people to remove their masks — especially the ones they had forgotten they were wearing and the ones others have placed on their faces for them.
For a couple of hours that have lasting impact, it frees fathers of the father role, enabling sons to see their fathers as fallible, flawed men, freed of the burden of responsibility for them, and equally desiring of love and happiness as they navigate the challenges unique to their time and path.
For a couple of hours, it frees siblings of their stolid roles within the family structure, cleaning the windows through which they are viewed.
The masks drop – not because anyone explicitly asks for them to (you really think they would if they did?), but because of its facilitation methodology and THJ’s® play structure—and the Conductor role itself, the only real role in THE HUMAN JOURNEY®.
Left to their own devices, the participants’ roles — their masks — might further congeal and ossify.
So over our eight hours together, we train Conductors to do specific things that hold safe space for groups, to soften the family dynamic—treating
- patient and family members as on an equal footing, equally deserving of attention;
- everyone as people with histories that are equally fresh, histories they can re-see and represent for themselves in the presence of an outsider; and
- generations and conditions of life as givens, not as calls for praise or blame.
In laying the function of holding down the role to our THJ® Conductors, we allow family members’ masks to melt – and for each one to see him or herself in something truer than a mirror: each other’s naked eyes.