Protect important relationships
In these highly polarized times, trust has been broken between many people who care about each other, but are hurt and angry about differences in values and how to interpret events in the world.
We can help you have difficult but important conversations about differences, with co-workers, friends, and family members. Learn skills so that you don’t damage these meaningful relationships, but instead establish some understanding and respect between you.
Menu of offerings
- Events are typically 75-90 minutes long
- Choice of online or in person
- Dialogue skills workshops
Number of participants:
- Personal: for 2-10 people who have ongoing relationships (e.g., family members, co-workers, friends)
- Group: workshops for 10-50 people (e.g., a faith-based group, a town commission); performances can be for 10-200
- Unified: for people who share fairly similar political viewpoints (e.g., “blue-leaning” or “red-leaning”)
- Divergent: for people wishing to connect across one or more ideological divides
Sample event goals:
- To help participants prepare for gatherings (such as family reunions) where divergent views arise, to be able to deal with them more constructively
- To help co-workers with divergent views understand each other and work better together
- To strengthen organizations that are working on depolarizing their communities or country
- To help facilitators learn new creative skills for putting themselves in others’ shoes
Material covered in workshops:
- Inner depolarization: reducing our own reactiveness to others we know
- Learn to listen for what’s important to others (including what wasn’t said)
- Explore the moral foundations that underlie people’s political beliefs
- Learn how to build bridges of trust and understanding
- Learn how to better communicate what is important to you and why
Some groups we have worked with:
- Brandeis University, Jewish and Palestinian Israeli students
- Braver Angels retreat
- New England Center and Home for Veterans
- Living Room Conversations Project, staff in-service training
- America Talks: National Week of Conversations
- Vineyard Church, for people in the neighborhood
When I first heard that True Story Theater would enact our personal stories at the Braver Angels New England Retreat, I was skeptical. I was reluctant to share anything personal because I was worried they would get it wrong. Being misunderstood is awful enough when it’s only with one person in a conversation. When I imagined being misunderstood and then mis-portrayed theatrically to my peers, it was more than I was willing to risk.
However, as I watched others share their experiences, I felt surprised and reassured by how carefully the talented performers listened and how accurately they embodied the essential parts of each story that was shared. I saw that each speaker was given full respect and freedom in what they shared, and that everyone in the room found something meaningful to relate to from each enactment.
I’ve observed that people often have trouble speaking what they really feel–either because they don’t know how to put their feelings into words, or because they don’t want to have those feelings, or they fear they will likely be told that they are not supposed to feel that way. I saw True Story Theater’s work skillfully address each of these hesitancies, showing sensitivity to the context and emotional landscape of each story.
I am glad that I was able to experience True Story Theater’s work and I recommend it to others–even to those who might initially be skeptical as I was.
-Jenny Maxwell, a member of the leadership team for Braver Angels in New England. She defines herself as a heterodox thinker who leans conservative politically, Braver Angels offers resources nationally to help bridge political differences.