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"Wholly Communion" is the umbrella name and final performance for my applied / culminating project for my MFA. It involved three separate parts, each described below. The first two parts involve facilitations with (1) people who have left evangelical churches and (2) Protestant pastors, educators, and church members. The final phase took the insight about compassionate community from each of the two facilitations--particularly the assets and obstacles identified about the faith communities from the first group--and transform it into an interactive performance event outdoors at ASU.
devised & Interactive
The final performance took place in the context of a faux museum exhibit and centered around four characters with diverse experiences in (evangelical) faith communities. Each character encountered several of the assets and obstacles identified in the Donovan the Dino workshops (described below). To create the show, I gathered a group of artists for weekly devising sessions to take the materials of the Dino workshops, analyze it dramaturgically, and then create an interactive performance event that encourages the broader community to consider what "compassionate community" looks like. The final piece has four primary goals: (1) uplift and emphasize feelings of belonging, self-worth, and connectedness, (2) challenge people to think about how they can make their communities more compassionate, (3) physically put people in proximity to each other & facilitate connection, and (4) honor the experiences of the people who have left evangelical churches and other workshop participants. The performance occurred at ASU and involved interactive moments with the four characters *as well* as stations where they could reflect on structures they want in community or people who have supported them.
Click to access the artifacts for each character.
Click to access the museum brochure.
Donovan the dino
Workshops with former evangelicals
I hosted a series of virtual workshops with people who have left or had complicated relationships with evangelical Christian church communities. Each workshop was through the lens of the character Donovan the Dino, who was experiencing a "faith community crisis" and wanted the help of participants to sort through the assets and obstacles of their faith communities and help him plan a "Church Crisis Party." These workshops identified 18 obstacles and 13 assets that will be crucial to each step moving forward. The sessions sought to connect people to one another and give people space to process & discuss their experiences through the distancing of a fun character.
Protestant leader workshops
compassionate accountability workshops
This workshop series involves Protestant pastors, church members, and educators on the topic of compassion and compassionate accountability in church spaces. Emerging from a shared value of love, we considered how our churches & communities can develop compassion practices and use compassionate accountability to address harms within the church or areas where the intent of showing compassion falls short of compassionate impact. The first portion will focus on using theatre-based activities to explore compassion, accountability, strategies for dealing with emotions when someone tells us we have harmed them, and more. The second portion will continue to explore the topics from the first day by engaging with why people describe they are leaving faith communities and by co-creating compassion and compassionate accountability plans for our churches.
In practice, I only had the opportunity to conduct a pilot workshop with a group in Texas, and then began the process of building relationships with Protestant leaders in Arizona.
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