Is 12 Characters a ‘performance’, a ‘workshop’, or something else?

The same friend who asked me recently about what the target group is for 12 Characters events also asked me this question:

How do you see your activity, as a performance, workshop or something else?

Again, this is something that I’ve not really known how to answer and it has mattered to me a great deal. So him asking me the question gave me the opportunity to begin to get clear.

Brief Answer:

We’ve called them ‘Gatherings’ because we haven’t found a more descriptive label that fits. They are half performances (we read the monologues and people listen for 45 minutes) and half conversations (in between every 3rd monologue there are interludes for neighbors to share with one another and after the readings are finished there is 90 minutes for an open hosted conversation). ¬†Currently my focus is learning how to assist people to share candidly and listen vulnerably during the conversation.

Full Answer:

We have purposefully decided to read the monologues from paper as opposed to acting them out from memory. This is to help everyone listening to be able to focus on what gets stimulated in their own thinking as much as possible. If it becomes too much of a performance there will be too much focus on how well we are acting, how good the writing is, etc. I am concerned all that will take away from people noticing what gets stimulated in their own heads and hearts. On the other hand, as readers we put a great deal of effort to give a life to the Character we are reading – to make them believable, to engender understanding for their thinking, and to cultivate some kind of compassion towards them. There’s a lot of reasons for this. Maybe the biggest is that many people can recognize all 12 of the Characters as aspects of their own thinking – some people can at least recognize a few Characters in their thinking. I believe it will help people have more compassion for their own thinking the more we can help them find compassion for the Characters. Another reason is that most people seem to have some kind of a ‘crust’ or a ‘shell’ that gets in their way of vulnerably hearing and sharing. There seems to be a connection between how realistic the characters are portrayed and how vulnerably people share their own experiences.

I haven’t yet found a label that fits. I call them ‘Gatherings’ – I’m happy to find something more descriptive. We perform while reading which takes 45 minutes and the rest of the time is for a hosted conversation. Between every 3rd monologue we pause for 5-6 mins so people can turn to their neighbors and share what’s arisen after hearing the proceeding monologues. At the end of the monologues we have 90 minutes to hold a hosted conversation to help people uncover what’s in the room. Help people find out what they’re thinking and learn how many others are thinking like them or differently.