I am pleased to write that Pendragon Theatre and St. Joseph’s are beginning a dialogue to explore opportunities to engage our residents and staff in the theater’s productions and associated activities.
“Theater is all about collaboration and community,” stated Allison Studdiford, a director with Pendragon during Pendragon’s visit with St. Joseph’s PAL team earlier this week. “It’s also about trust developed through acting classes and performing. It’s a wonderful way to experience making good choices or bad choices, because it’s all pretend without the repercussions of real life. And in this way, theater can be very therapeutic.”
And this is where the community of St. Joseph’s comes in. Although our Veteran residents have been attending dress rehearsals at Pendragon for the past few years, there is now an opportunity for collaboration with the theatre in a wide variety of activities beginning with acting classes, improvisational acting classes, design and stagecraft workshops, tech support for mainstage productions, and playwriting workshops.
John Nicholson, Pendragon’s Manager, cited their work with adolescents, as an example of their success with a specific group of people. “We’ve taken high school students who’ve submitted plays, helped them create original scripts and then produce them. They then have the chance to work with people who do this for a living.”
John then suggested these activities could occur with St. Joseph’s residents in the context of a drama therapy program.
Inpatient Services Director, Zach Randolph, cited St. Joseph’s Veterans Program’s relationship with NYU Langone Health, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, and the center’s work with St. Joseph’s Veterans in treating traumatic brain injuries, to provide a professional foundation for creating a drama therapy program. He added, “Social anxiety comes with early recovery. Dress rehearsals can be therapeutic, cathartic experiences to get people out of their element. It can be life changing.”
Veterans program Director, Sam Hall, affirmed, “We’re closer than we might think to creating such a program. But, it’s important to be aware of the difference in the people we treat. For example, our Veterans might need to take a little longer than other residents to establish trust.”
I mentioned the cultural element of stigma reduction as theatre-goers could have an additional opportunity to engage with our residents. And CTO and HR Director, Katie Kirkpatrick suggested several ways in which our staff might also become involved, including the possibility of interested clinicians becoming certified drama therapists.
All this thoughtful discussion represents the beginning of what Manager Nicholson believes, “has the potential to turn into something of great value to both organizations.”
I look forward to sharing more with you as St.Joseph’s collaboration with Pendragon develops.
Bob Ross, CEO