By SARIA IDANA, a theater, literary, and music artist, committed to freedom of expression as a means to develop action connection and intimacy. Her work focuses on personal and global struggle in conjunction with human resiliency. She is a Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts MFA student.
Saria Idana will be performing her solo show HOMELESS IN HOMELAND on March 1-3 at La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley, Calif.
Catharsis is present in HOMELSS IN HOMELAND in three ways. First, through a dramatic arc in both the theater piece and spoken word album; second, in what I have learned from the different art forms speaking to each other as they develop multiple layers of meaning; and third, in how I have been changed on a personal level by engaging with the topics. The combination of these allows the audience to experience their own catharsis. When an artist has been changed through the process of making work, the showing becomes a sharing not a telling. This manifests through intention and into stance and tone. The action of sharing gives the audience permission to engage with the material in a more intimate way.
Structurally, the main character—based on me—goes through mental and emotional breakdowns and breakthroughs, which is a traditional form for catharsis. This is a classic structure developed with Aristotelian theater in ancient Greece. This dramatic arc invites the audience to identify with the protagonist and to go through mental and emotional shifts as the protagonist does. On a personal level, engaging with this material has changed my relationship to my own identity both as an American and as a Jew dedicated to the human rights of all people.
From feedback I received, I know catharsis has occurred for a number of audience members; I consider even the political hate mail emailed to me evidence of this. In both formal and informal post performances discussions, audience members have expressed having altering. This has been demonstrated through intense crying—coupled with bits of laughter—to people saying, “I just never thought about it quite like that”; “it” has been applied to different aspects of identity, history, and experience shown in the narrative of the play, but most often refers to the Middle East conflict.
It is my hope that these personal catharses affect people to engage with more sensitivity toward personal story, but also to have an increased conviction for justice in the communities they affect both nationally and internationally. This might be something small or large, it might be in relation to the Middle East or not, but if the material shifts how people relate to their world, I am deeply humbled and satisfied.