Letting the Body Speak


Alexis Miles, photo by Robert Troup

Our bodies are the loci of pain, pleasure, and knowing. They hold the stories of our life, death, love, and loss. They are the generative place from and about which great art is made and healing manifests.

Letting the Body Speak is a ten-week workshop designed by Kirsten Wilson to teach the essentials of writing monologues and solo performing. In this workshop students create autobiographical monologues generated from creative writing exercises that explore the history of their lives through the history of their bodies. Students learn how to move from the written word to the embodied drama while integrating parts of themselves that have been silenced, discovering gifts of wisdom that their pleasure and pain have taught them, and developing their creative voice. The class culminates in a final performance at The Dairy Center for the Arts in which each student performs a short monologue.

The workshop is inspired, first, by a philosophy of embodied knowing—that if you are not in your body you are, literally, not “making sense.” Through writing, movement exercises, meditations, and public performing, students learn to occupy more of their body, more of their knowing, allowing them to find their voice and the courage to speak it. Second, the course is inspired by the idea that artists must know themselves thoroughly, ruthlessly, in order to know and speak deeply of anything else and to anyone else. And that all people, regardless of their profession, can do more visionary work if they know how they came to view the world the way they do, learn to speak their personal truths, and learn to listen across the differences of other people’s bodies, knowings, and experiences.

The workshop is open to everyone – regardless of experience – who believes in transforming themselves, and the world, through art.

Although Wilson developed the course in 1993 for art students, dancers, writers, and actors at the College of Santa Fe, she has taught the course privately to people from all professions who may never have performed on stage but are interested in journeying deep into their personal voice and out into community.