Unity Theater is an interactive, improvised arts-based theatrical experience for healing racism and all social oppressions, to bring about unity through song, storytelling, chanting, movement, deep breathing, meditation, creative visualization and civic dialogue based on the original artwork and music of Saint Angel. It also features a community development component to aid us all in taking collective community action. Diversity Arts will begin presenting Unity Theater in the next several months. Centered on Saint Angel’s art to touch the heart and songs to soothe the soul, we have the starting point for a healing revolution. Together, we are setting the stage for peace, love, justice and unity as we build a mobile sanctuary for civic engagement that restores faith, hope and love in our world. It’s time to let our hearts soar.
Unity Theater is a process for helping us, essentially, build more love and light in the Universe. It is a container in which a safe space is created to explore issues of our cultural diversity and unity through artistic expression. We do this for the Highest Good, taking into account that we are, each and every one of us, special and unique creations, formed like none other, into exactly who we are and who we are meant to be, by a precious and good Creator, the Holy One, God. Of course, we also exercise our own free will in the continued creation of ourselves, and it is thus important that we channel our wills for the highest good. This brings good health and well being, not only to ourselves, but to everybody on Planet Earth.
When we build intercultural unity through Unity Theater, we are serving the Highest Good of ourselves, of Humanity, and of Planet Earth. We are honoring God and Humanity, life itself, and spreading light, good, and joy to everyone, everywhere.
As we have all been hurt by the injustices of oppression, Unity Theater provides a safe place to heal and express our emotional pain associated with these wounds as well as positive feelings, holding out hope for a new day. Within the loving arms of a special and diverse community, we express the truth within our hearts and souls, healing ourselves and each other as the performance of Unity Theater winds on. We create a space for listening. As stories of pain and promise are told, we listen with openness and a non-judgmental stance, accepting what comes. The tears may roll down our cheeks, our hearts may open, our laughter may be released. We may come to see our unity, to know our oneness. And through this process, we are moved with everyone present, to work together for positive change within our communities and our neighborhoods.
In this way, we may positively channel our difficult emotions for positive change. Anger, pain, frustration and disappointment– the by-products of social oppression– must be channeled into something beautiful, constructive and positive for healing and productivity to take place. The expressive arts are a way to heal as we channel our emotions constructively, explore ourselves and heal our hurts, and then feel cleansed by the healing process, thus enabling us to give to and receive support from others who may be culturally the same or different from us, and to go out into the world shining our newly strengthened light.
We have used and heard common metaphors for anger in everyday conversations with coworkers, colleagues, friends, family members, and teachers.
- “He blew his top.”
- “She flipped her lid.”
- “I was beside myself.”
These are examples of people becoming separated from their minds in a psychological process of dissociation that is designed to protect us in some instances, yet it may also leave us vulnerable as we may become separated from the ability to do our best thinking. And we need to do our best thinking — to put our thinking caps on, rather than flip our lids — when it comes to working together to end prejudice and oppression. We need to employ all of our mental capacities and cultivate our mind’s clear thinking in order to build justice and peace.
We often don’t get anywhere with anger when we express it to others, albeit in a non-therapeutic context. We need a safe, therapeutic space in which to express the anger, sadness and outrage that are the natural by-products of being treated unfairly, with racism or other prejudices such as sexism, ableism, ageism, classism, sizeism, and even men’s oppression– that which is targeted unfairly at men.
The theory of building intercultural unity through the Unity Theater performance works because, together, we create a safe space for dialogue and community-building where we realize we are all oppressed in some way, we state that this oppression isn’t right, this oppression doesn’t feel good to our hearts/minds/bodies/souls/spirits, and we affirm that we are all one, all connected here, on this Earthly Plane, in this one vast moment, we call “Life”. We want to make the whole place better for everyone, out of the love we feel for each other in our hearts and souls.
This works because…
We remember that we are and have always truly been connected. Learning, erroneously, that we were all separate and thus only out for ourselves, to greedily get the most we could while others suffered, was not the correct teaching. If we followed in this way that we learned, it was not the correct path for us. We were erroneously taught that in order to get more for ourselves, we had to take from others, and put them down, in order to justify — erroneously — our “right” to take from them. We thought we benefited from the injustices of racism, sexism, homophobia and heterosexism, ableism, etc., when instead, we created a rat race on a treadmill spinning faster and faster inside a cage of no tomorrow. We wake up each day, spinning our wheels like we can’t get enough, spinning ourselves into a cycle of Earth’s destruction. And most of all, we wake up feeling like Rats! (Of course, real rats don’t deserve a bad name; they are also just another of God’s creatures with a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!)
It is time for rebirth and renewal, and a healing or tikkun of our whole world with new values of loving each other, all life, all God’s creations, the Planet Herself…
Building Intercultural Unity Through Unity Theater will help us all find our way back to the Garden [of Eden]. Through these theatrical and therapeutic means — the expressive arts and dialogue — we return to God. We laugh and we cry together until there are no more tears of sadness, only joy. We come together to express our piece, and find our peace… and our wholeness. Amen.
Elana Felice Stanger, L.C.S.W.,