Trauma and the Theatre

“I’m so excited; I’m going to the theatre tonight and I’ve not been in ages!”

“Sounds great – what are you going to see?”

“This thing on trauma. It’s billed as both informative and funny.”

“…”

Trauma. Private pain laid out on the stage? Humorous? A good night out?

I was curious. I’ve written about trauma, specifically Complex PTSD, within the context of the Third Culture Kid and different cultural expressions of trauma (Culture Bound Syndromes). But it was hard to imagine how this theatrical production could bring trauma to the stage. How can one take private pain, make it accessible to all, non-triggering, and respectful to those who have experienced trauma? Oh, and how do you then make that production a good night out?

Pad Productions’ “Left of Me” satisfied my curiosity on all fronts. Emily Howlett and Chloe Clarke were informative (great visuals and explanations on the physical effects of trauma) and heart-breakingly vulnerable, and yes – even funny. They offered a stirring critique of some of the more blithe attempts to support those who have experienced trauma, and yet they stopped short of hopelessness. Relationship, understanding, gentleness and patience graced the stage as essential support mechanisms, embodied in Emily and Chloe’s performance, and challenging the audience to “go forth and do likewise”.

Trauma is private. But trauma leaks. It expresses itself in you and through you, and around you in others. Seek platforms where this expression is productive, held in safety and with gentleness. Maybe this will be through therapy. Maybe this will be through personal or public artistic expression. But it’s your story. Tell it your way.

If you need some support in telling your story, get in touch with me here. I’d love to hear from you.

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