The guiding idea behind the Compassion Plays program is a relatively simple one: live theatre has the power to affect our emotional state—to make us feel.
live theatrical performance, effective writing and the performance of a skilled
actor can make us feel experiences of a fictional character, as we
connect with that character's joy, rage or grief. So moved, and with the guidance
of a sensitive facilitator, we are in an ideal place to begin a conversation about
how these fictional characters and situations might connect to our own lives, our
own feelings, our own truths and our own questions of identity. And from there, we
can move on to conversation about how our identities connect with and impact one another
in the form of community.
Developing compassion is a core mission of all ENCOMPASS programs. To develop compassion and understanding for someone whose experiences or identity is substantially different from our own, we must somehow feel for that person's situation in a new way. The Compassion Plays program offers an opportunity for connection across barriers of difference. In any connection, however slight, we experience the possibility for compassion. With even deeper connection, we can offer support and take on responsibility for positive change. Compassion Plays move audiences emotionally, while they also educate, illuminate and entertain.
Each of the three Compassion Plays currently offered by ENCOMPASS — HORIZON LINE, KICK and WHEELS — centers on the story of a teenager at a moment of decision in his or her life. Each play finds its main character ultimately at a crossroads, asking him or herself the pivotal question: Who am I? — as a human being of my race, ethnicity, gender, culture, age group, class, and/or immigration status. Am I different from how I am perceived? Are there aspects of my identity and my world that are within my power to change? The journey of each character lies in their attempts to answer these questions, often in the face of conflicting perspectives from important people in their lives: parents, siblings, peers, teachers, and law enforcement. The goal of each Compassion Plays presentation is to highlight some of the authentic feelings that accompany this search for answers.
ENCOMPASS currently has three different plays available for touring to schools, community organizations and conferences in the greater Los Angeles area. Each play features a solo actor performing a range of characters over the course of a 30-40 minute play. Before and immediately following the performance, a professional facilitator engages the audience in a structured discussion of the characters and ideas presented in the play. By the conclusion of the program, audience members begin to make connections between the play and issues or divisions in their own communities. And most important, they begin to discuss how—through the participation of individuals in the community—these issues and divisions might be addressed or even changed.
Each script in the Compassion Plays series is based on extensive interviews with young people by playwright Peter Howard, as well as extensive research in consultation with educators and youth advocates around Los Angeles. Each script includes a range of opinions and perspectives on questions for which there is no easy answer.
Compassion Plays Preview Shows
Periodically, ENCOMPASS will invite guests to attend one of our special Compassion Plays Preview Shows.
If you would like to be invited to future previews of "Wheels," "Kick," or "Horizon Line" please contact Lori Nelson to join our mailing list at (626)-584-7495 or email us here.