This paper proposes a model of trauma informed theater as a public health intervention. Drawing on innovations in community-based performance, trauma informed care and occupational health and safety, I outline uses of theater in the specific setting of work-related
trauma in emergency medical responders, and as an intervention to into public health challenges more generally. In describing this model, I trace the development of an original performance about trauma and resilience in emergency medical services (EMS) providers as a performative occupational health intervention.
Counting Pebbles was conceived by myself and my ensemble, Faultline, in 2016, and was staged for the first time at the Yale Cabaret in March 2019. The creation of the performance provides a framework for the emergence of a new theory of trauma informed performance, and its possible applications.
Work-related trauma and critical stress in EMS providers has gained increased attention in the past five years, despite significant stigma that pressures providers to bury the impacts of these issues. Interventions have tended towards top-down structures focused on debriefing
specific, potentially traumatic incidents, yet examining the literature about and lived experiences of EMS providers reveals the necessity of viewing trauma instead as inextricably interwoven into emergency medical work.
Through Counting Pebbles, a diverse array of artists and health workers attempted to use theater to provide a trauma informed intervention rooted in the lived experiences of EMS providers. This performance utilized collaborative development, intentional music, design, language and character choices, and a harm reduction-inspired plot to create a performance that provided a space for unburying stories of responder trauma. This paper explores the project’s successes and failures in sparking a dialogue and collective reimagining of first responder support systems.
|Department:||School of Public Health|
|School Location:||United States -- Connecticut|
|Source:||MAI 81/6(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Public health, Theater|
|Keywords:||Critical stress, Emergency medical services, First responder, Social and behavioral sciences, Theater, Trauma|
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