On Monday, April 23, I had the opportunity to witness the staged reading of “Let the Phoenix Rise” by The Sistah Tribe Theater Group at The Players Theatre in NYC. The Sistah Tribe is a theater group comprised of men and women who have committed to bringing therapeutic theatre to underserved, at risk, traumatized girls and women in the public sector of NYC. The play was authored and created by Sheri Heller and Laura Gosheff and was directed and composed by Daniel Neiden.
The play was inspired by a therapeutic workshop that was facilitated by Sheri, a licensed clinical social worker, certified addiction specialist, Ericksonian hypnotist, and interfaith minister on September 16, 2008. She held the workshop for women who had experienced extensive childhood trauma and abuse. Laura participated in the workshop and in the follow-up workshops that lasted for about three months. Sheri explained the therapeutic workshops:
"This workshop concerned the plight of the archetypal orphan child, with the intent of mobilizing her to face her core injuries and fears of surviving alone in this world, so as to connect from a place of discernment, compassion, maturity and acceptance. This rite of passage was enacted in the workshop through writing, dance, hypnosis, improvisation, and ritual. What resulted was a deeper sense of purpose and connection to our worth and power. We continued to meet regularly to explore and examine the most feared, dormant parts of ourselves, as well as our deepest aspirations. Eventually fairytale became a vehicle for infusing our personal stories with mythical imagery. As the process unfolded it became evident that further growth and development required stepping beyond the personal to the transpersonal. Accordingly, Laura Gosheff and I committed to extending ourselves through creating “Let the Phoenix Rise,” a play inspired by the creative process and writings from these workshops."
The reading of “Let the Phoenix Rise” was a powerful and moving experience. At one point I was fighting back tears in response to the performance. As the stories of the four girls unfolded, their pain and struggles struck a nerve at my core of pain and sadness. By the end of the play, my emotions shifted to that of relief and hopefulness.