NYU Forum on Theatre & Health: Schedule and Highlights

See the full conference schedule here

Theatre & Health Lab Launch - Thursday, April 11, 9-4:30 p.m.

Grand Hall, NYU Global Center, 238 Thompson Street. 5th Floor.
A public think tank to launch the NYU Theatre & Health Lab featuring research on the health benefits of theatre-making and performance.
Chair: Dr. Nisha Sajnani, Director Program in Drama Therapy and Theatre & Health Lab

Think Tank Members & Guest Speakers include:

Dr. Alisha Ali, NYU
Mr. Christopher Bailey, World Health Organization
Dr. Renee Emunah, California Institute of Integral Studies
Dr. Thalia Goldstein, George Mason University
Dr. Zoi Kapoula, CNRS University Paris Descartes
Dr. Anna Seymour, University of Roehampton
Dr. Stephen Snow, Concordia University
Ms. Patricia Riggin, MFA, Boston College

UBC Research-Based Theatre Collaborative

Dr. George Belliveau, University of British Columbia (UBC)
Dr. Grant Charles, UBC Social Work & Counseling
Dr. Marv Westwood, UBC Counseling Psychology
Dr. Graham Lea, University of Manitoba
Chris Cook, Playwright, MA Counseling Psychology, UBC
Luke Bokenfohr, Retired Veteran, UBC
Dr. Susan Cox, School of Population and Public Health, UBC

Stop-PD Parkinson's Theatre Team

Dr. Roberta Marongiu, Weill-Cornell Medicine, Stop PD
Alex Montaldo, Actor, StopPD
Dr. eMalick Njie, NeuroStorm
Dr. Andy Feigin, NYU Langone Neurology
Anna M. Pardoe, NYU
Dr. Nisha Sajnani, NYU


Plenary 1: Friday April 12: What Can Theatre Contribute to Health?
The Frederick Loewe Theatre, Education Building, 35 West 4th Street, NYC, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
A conversation with George Belliveau, Phil Kingston, Refiloe Lepere, Katherine Low, Jenny Macdonald, and Anna Seymour
Chair: Maria Hodermarska

Lunch Roundtable: Friday April 12: Examining the Ethics of Research-Based Theatre through the Work of the UBC Collaborative
Pless 3rd Floor Lounge, 1-1:45 p.m.
Susan Cox, Graham W. Lea, Chris Cook, and George Belliveau
Chair: Dr. Grant Charles
Moderator: Nan Smither

Plenary 2: Saturday April 13: A Marriage Between the Couch and the Stage
The Frederick Loewe Theatre, Education Building, 35 West 4th Street, NYC, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
A conversation with playwright Sarah Ruhl and psychiatrist Dr. Anthony Charuvastra
Chair: Dr. Nisha Sajnani with Lauren Girouard


Thursday, April 11: Stage 4 - On Empathy and Health. Written and performed by Christopher Bailey, World Health Organization.

Empathy has been a part of healing from the beginning of medicine, or even caregiving. Yet often in the health sciences, we mistrust it. What are its practical uses in both medicine and art? What is the science behind it? In an original and explosive performance piece, Christopher Bailey of the World Health Organization takes you on a journey through space and time, from HIV clinics in Kenya, to a Liberian slum during the 2014 Ebola epidemic, to oncology wards in Switzerland, and to ancient Greek theatres to bring to life real stories of this primal human ability and the emerging science behind it. When we say ‘art can heal,' what do we mean by that? In answering that question, we touch on the very foundations of what it means to be human, and perhaps, how we can survive as a species.

Thursday, April 11:
Unload. Featuring George Belliveau and Luke Bokenfohr (Royal Marines – ret’d). Directed by Christopher Cook. Developed and written by the UBC Research-Based Theatre Collaborative. Global Center.

“We all have things we need to unload,” says a military veteran in this 30-minute play portraying a powerful bond between two men who have respectively faced personal loss. When an actor asks his veteran friend to help him prepare to audition for the role of a soldier, they embark on a soul-searching journey to address difficult memories. Drawing on his ability to overcome challenges in and out of uniform, the veteran must guide the actor through an unspoken grief that has been haunting him for decades. The heart of the play invites audiences to witness a dramatized version of a group therapy model where individuals unload some of their baggage, or trauma, to move forward with their lives. Filled with emotional truth and laughter, this moving and surprising play brings to life research on veterans transitioning home and the lived experience of civilians carrying trauma.

Thursday, April 11:
Big Apple Playback Theatre: Stories of Navigating Healthcare. Loewe Theatre.

Big Apple Playback Theatre is an improvisational multi- ethnic, multi language theatre company in which the actors reenact audience members' life stories. They use this storytelling theatre as a vehicle for dialogue, community building, leadership development, entertainment and social change.

Friday, April 12: Blood/Sugar.Created by Diana Wyenn and co-written by Diane Wyenn and Guy Zimmerman. Loewe Theatre.

Historical perspectives and staggering statistics collide with personal narrative, live-feed video, Shakespeare, and original movement to give embodied expression to the complexities of living with a chronic illness. Creator Diana Wyenn, who has type 1 diabetes, places her story and body at the center of the work, as both a carrier of disease and a vehicle for theatrical transmission. Richly researched, Blood/Sugar challenges the binary of health and illness to create a vivid account of the life-sustaining self-care that diabetes demands of more than 422 million people worldwide.

Saturday, April 13: Cry Havoc!Written by Stephen Wolfert with excerpts from William Shakespeare. Directed by Eric Tucker. Performed by Stephen Wolfert. Loewe Theatre.

Stephan Wolfert, MFA is a U.S. Army veteran, playwright, performer, and founder of the DE-CRUIT Shakespeare program for veterans. Cry Havoc! combines Stephan’s own personal military story with Shakespeare’s writings on war. He has performed Cry Havoc! around the world to critical acclaim, including Berkshire Theatre Awards for Outstanding Performance by a male actor, Outstanding Direction of a Play, and Outstanding Production of a Play.

Saturday April 13: Four Legs to Stand On ACT II Written and Directed by Ana Bess Moyer Bell, COAAST. Loewe Theatre.

Four Legs to Stand On is a play about our most pressing current national crisis. Act I was written in collaboration with Jessica Schroeder and Maya Hormadaly. Act II was written by Moyer Bell, commissioned by Trinity Repertory Company.

In Act II, audience members pull up a seat beside Sam in group therapy surrounded by the different faces of the opioid epidemic. We’re exposed to the successes of recovery and the heartbreak of relapse. Here we find the intimate space that exists between therapist and patient, patient and peer, and patient and disease. We dive head first into the realities of a cast of characters fighting for their lives. This play encourages us all to stand firm in our support of those fighting this disease and ending this national epidemic. We do recover!

April 11-14: Turbulence. Written by Daimaah Mubashir, Britton Williams, and Cast. Directed by Britton Williams on the experience of therapists who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color. Provincetown Playhouse. This is event is ticketed separately. You may purchase tickets here.

Post-Conference Masterclass on Self-Revelatory Performance with Dr. Renee Emunah, Sunday April 14, 1-5 p.m.
The Frederick Loewe Theatre, Education Building, 35 West 4th Street, NYC
Masterclass is limited to 35 people. More information.