Exploring Identity in Holliston

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Exploring Identity, is a two-part event, with an interactive Playback Theatre performance and an Active Bystander skills workshop.

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The events will be held on Zoom, on successive Sundays, May 16 and May 23, from 12:30 to 3:00 pm.

Please join members of Diverse Holliston as we welcome True Story Theater to Holliston for Exploring Identity, a two-part event including an interactive Playback Theatre performance and an in-depth active bystander workshop. Exploring Identity is for adults and young people 13+ . The event will give community members the opportunity to tell their stories of identity, hear those of others, grow compassion and understanding across difference, and learn how to effectively stand up against the obvious and subtle forms of bias and bigotry we encounter in Holliston. This series is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Holliston Cultural Council and the partnership and support of Aesop's Fable Book Shop in Holliston.

Read more about True Story and Active Bystander Training.

Sunday May 16: EXPLORING IDENTITY in Holliston:

A True Story Theater performance* and introduction to Active Bystander skills.

True Story Theater will present a Playback Theatre performance based on stories of identity, inclusion, exclusion, and belonging in community. Stories shared spontaneously by audience members will get ‘played back’ by TST’s skilled performers, helping all audience members understand and feel more deeply how different identities are seen and held by our community. True Story will include an overview of “What is Identity” to help remember stories about our different identities.

We will then learn one of the skills of being an active bystander—someone who not only witnesses a situation, but also speaks up or takes steps to defuse a situation or keep it from escalating.

Sunday May 23: EXPLORING IDENTITY in Holliston:

Deepening identity awareness and practice of ACTIVE BYSTANDER skills with True Story Theater

Participants will explore their many individual identities, and practice basic active bystander skills. We all witness situations where we want, but hesitate, to intervene whether we’re at school, the workplace, family gatherings or on social media. We will learn how to intervene positively and effectively.

We will learn about microaggressions and biases . . . our own, and those we may witness at home, at work, in school, and around town. We’ll learn how to engage in effective and non-aggressive conversations in order to promote dialogue and change around harmful things people have said or done. And we will practice practical strategies for handling specific situations and discover what tactics may work best for each of us. These skills will help us understand and dialogue more effectively across the differences of perspective we encounter everyday in Holliston.

REGISTER and receive the Zoom link for each date by clicking the GREEN Register button above. Suggested Donation is $20-$30 per household for each event (or more if you’re able). If you are not able to pay the suggested donation please pay what you can $5-$20.

* What happens in a True Story Theater performance?

Our events bring together the delight of improvisation with the riveting vulnerability of people sharing their personal truth.

The show’s emcee (called “the conductor”) facilitates brief, spontaneous conversations with volunteers from the audience who share their own feelings and experiences related to the show’s theme. After each conversation, the actors and a musician immediately embody the key feelings and actions they heard, using movement, music, dialogue, and superb listening. All of it is improvised on the spot. During the course of a 75-90 minute show, True Story enacts about 6-10 stories.

From this simple interaction, audience members laugh, cry, get insights about their lives, and feel an expanded sense of community. You can share a moment from your life and see it performed, or just come to watch.

FACILITATORS: Franci Dumar and Tonia Pinheiro will facilitate Exploring Identity in Holliston - 5/16 performance and 5/23 workshop

Franci DuMar began working with True Story Theater to lead Bystander Intervention Workshops three years ago. Now more than ever, Franci is inspired to focus her facilitation and bystander intervention training and teaching towards outreach of young people and families. In facilitating multiple workshops to children and teenagers in Playback and improvisational theater, Franci has engaged young people in finding more connection, empathy, and spontaneity from both telling and performing their stories. When leading Bystander Intervention Trainings, Franci looks to help people challenge their own biases, hold helpful and nonjudgmental dialogues around standing-up for social causes, and make the commitment to this life-long practice of challenging harmful societal norms. She is currently earning her Master’s degree at Lesley University in Mental Health Counseling & Drama Therapy.

Tonia Pinheiro joined True Story Theater as an actor and musician in 2003, gained skills as a Conductor, and in 2007 joined the team of developers and facilitators of True Story’s Active Bystander workshops. Tonia has enjoyed a 40+ year career in human resources, labor relations, training, facilitation, administration, and interpersonal communications, and has enjoyed lifelong research and study of the human condition and spirit. This led her to coaching and working with people of diverse identities and roles, both privately and in Active Bystander workshops and affinity groups, who want to explore, risk, and courageously experiment with gaining greater self-knowledge and awareness, supporting new personal choices, aligning values with actions, and listening to others more fearlessly and deeply.

Tonia is founder and director of Wake Up! Works where she uses the skills and experience gained in senior management, consulting, and board positions in service to public, private, corporate, non-profit, educational and metaphysical organizations and community groups. Tonia is also founder and spiritual director of Sanctuary of Expression, and founder of Iseeu Theater where she trains people of color in Playback and improvisational theatre skills. Tonia holds an M.A. in Organizational Management, a B.A. in Legal Services, and is a Coach U. graduate. She’s a lover of improvisational music and theater and lives on Mohican land in western MA. You can learn more about her work at

This program is supported in part by Holliston Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. This program is also supported through Diverse Holliston's partnership with Aesop's Fable Book Shop in Holliston

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