November 29, 2020
In the next video of our Work that Matters series, Hanna Rachel Gerry talks about how a life threatening illness led her to pursue a degree in Drama Therapy at CIIS.
In her upcoming show, “Being Me Is Ridiculous”, Hanna describes her harrowing experience as she worked with medical professionals to find a diagnosis for a rare disorder. Her show dives into the emotional and physical consquences of facing a difficult illness and her critique of the health care system in the United States. She uses humor and heartfelt storytelling to share her story and invite all of us to connect with the difficulties of being a young adult.
Her show will be livestreamed on Monday November 30 at 7:30PM through The Marsh Theater.
Transcript of Video
The show, I actually started writing it as part of my thesis for my MFA. I got sick in the middle of my program and had this wild ride which is what the show is about and that ended up becoming my thesis. Then I have been workshopping it and performing it and kind of expanding it since then. So I’ve been working on it for almost 5 years. I think the experience of having a life threatening illness and complications really sort of shook everything up and made me more aware of my purpose. I woke up from surgery and the first thing I said to my mom was “Mom I want to be an actor.” And then, but there was also this part of needing to help make the world a better place and help people become their best selves, which is actually a line from the show. And it took some time to figure that out. I moved around some different jobs in the theater world and outside of it, and then finally stopped being afraid and applied and it felt right. It felt like combining this healing journey I went on and also my love for the performing arts, so here we are.
I’m Hanna Rachel Garry and I’m a drama therapist in training at CIIS. I also have a Master of Fine Arts in dramatic writing from Cal State LA. I live in the Bay Area and I grew up here so I’m a California gal.
Let’s see one of my favorite things is that in psychodrama which is one arm of drama therapy, health is looked at as spontaneity and creativity and I think that’s a really wonderful way to look at health. And I feel like that is very present in theater, especially improv. And my show is an example of a self-revelatory performance which was coined by our program director Renée Emunah so it’s a sort of like a show where you get to do your healing on stage, which I think part of what happens in my show. It also could be looked at as an autobiographical therapeutic performance which is also by Armand Volkas and I think that in the future I’m interested in directing those or helping people develop their own self-revs or ATPs to have healing happen on stage.
Yeah, the reason that works is there’s this thing called aesthetic distance which was coined by Robert Landy another one of our key players so it’s where you’re able to look at your therapeutic content but be at the correct distance so you’re not in it getting super emotional but you can look at it and play with it and sort of reclaim it or reframe it so that you can move through it. Really role playing and role taking is a big part of it. So you get to try on different behaviors and see how that manifests in your body. See how you want to take that out into the world and behave differently. And yeah it just frees you up and opens you up to new possibilities.
I will be performing my show Being Me is Ridiculous on Zoom live with the Marsh through their Monday Night Marshstream as a solo feature. Being Me is Ridiculous, November 30th, 7:30PM Pacific Standard Time.
I was listening to a podcast about following your dreams or people who are too afraid to take risks to go after what they really want to do and I was happy to be sitting with myself and feeling like I’m building the life that I want and it took a long time to get there but now that I’m 30, it seems to be coming together and I’m really grateful for that.