Sunday, August 23, 2009

What Would Michael Jackson Do?

Is it possible that I've managed to mention Michael Jackson three times in a blog that's just one month old?

What will Michael Jackson do? No, not that one--the one who showed up last week for my theatre games at a homeless shelter. It's a woman who's got the moves down, and who would periodically gyrate suggestively throughout the course of the evening, most often during games in which the other participants--me included--needed to mimic her. She was funny and fun, but of the kind that brings about nervous laughter. Like, she added some spice, but I had my heart set on broth and noodles.

As another woman from the shelter had told me, when hearing that we'd be doing acting exercises, "You don't want these women expressing themselves."

I don't totally agree, but at the same time I understand that I'm not a therapist, and that estimates say 70% of the people at the shelter have a mental illness. I have to figure out how to do what I do without bringing anyone to the point of strong emotion. I avoid games with a lot of eye contact or touching, for one. And though we'll try out some feelings like "anger," I quickly move things right along to "frustrated."

Today, as I plan for my sessions, I've got MJ on my mind. I'll be avoiding that exercise where I end up doing the hip thrust alongside her, to be sure. But beyond that, I want to find ways to let her enjoy herself without getting too out of hand or too disruptive to the others. To move past the moonwalk and find her own dance.

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