Hollywood Senior Center Writers, Spring 2011 From back left: Karla Daniel, Shirley Hendrickson, Yvonne Williams, (Katy Liljeholm, youthful facilitator), Bill Punton (and Miles) Ardis BayLaurel. Not pictured is Helen Villalobos!

Well Arts Institute partners with area organizations and not for profits to offer their members and community a public space to articulate their experiences. Writing participants are engaged in a challenging yet satisfying journey of creation.

 We work with populations to explore how the art of story telling can be a healing experience

Each workshop and production is a unique collaboration between people, artists and organizations. This allows Well Arts to serve diverse populations, facing a wide range of health and social issues. 

 Our facilitators and directors guide the participating writers through a rigorous process to create an evening of theatre. 

Our collaborations provide the writing participants a space to become mentors, gain confidence, become artistic collaborators developing a cohesive new work for the theatre. Many writing participants become clarion voices in their communities by sharing their stories with audiences.

Concurrently, the productions serve our partnering organizations by promoting the work they do. Well Arts is able to advocate for people our partners serve by celebrating and honoring their members and community through the stage presentations.

We support participants by: 

  • Providing individuals and their families creative writing tools that offer a kind of perspective that is unique to creating theatre allows some participants to gain new insights into some experiences.
  • Exploring the health of our community through partnerships with organizations that focus on social  and cultural issues that can have deleterious effects on our hearts, minds and bodies.
  • Identifying under – recognized cultural issues and those populations affected to collaborate on writing for the theatre workshops, allows for conversations that may not or cannot happen in political or social spheres.
  • Building a creative space to develop their experiences into imaginative, theatrical presentations in collaboration with professional actors and stage directors, with experience creating new work.


1525393_684886034866167_1229044967_nWe begin with writing for theatre workshops. A professional artist will facilitate the 6 – 8 week writing workshops. Through this process, participants learn how to write scenes and monologues of their stories and experiences.

Our participants are the playwrights in the process, engaging in creative discussion with the theatre director and actors, making adjustments in the stories, and developing new ones in ensemble fashion.  The goal is to provide community, connection, and a forum for sharing how we live and how we can heal as individuals and as a community overcoming social issues that are as treacherous as any illness. 

In our workshops, we use playwriting, creative writing, memoir, visual art, and theatre games to help participants write and develop stories.  Sometimes these stories are about direct experiences, and sometimes they are flights of imagination inspired by, but no limited to, reality.  All workshops are facilitated by trained playwrights, directors, and artists.  All workshops include a community interaction component.  


Next we produce an evening of devised theatre with the writers. This process includes script development, rehearsal, production and performance. We bring in local theatre artists and actors to work closely with the writing participants to finely hone their pieces for the stage.

Our Mainstage Projects are performed at a local theater.  Our smaller projects include a variety of non-traditional performances or artistic products.


I Wander, It CallsBeautiful Minds

This is a workshop for people living with mental illness, as well as caregivers, family, and friends of people living with mental illness.  We’re working on metaphors, style, voice, and character to reveal the truths of mental illness, as well as, you know, being alive.

One in four Americans will receive a mental illness diagnosis at some point in their lives.  This diagnosis can isolate, stigmatize, confound, and instill fear.  Or, it can connect us to resources and a larger community where we know we’re not along.  A big part of that connection is learning to honor, share, and create out of personal experience. 

Jump at the Sun, Artist Jenny KroikVoices of Our Elders

Well Arts Institute provides writing-for-theatre workshops for the 60-and-over set through “Voices of Our Elders”.  These workshops provides basic and intermediate creative memoir and poetry writing skills to all comers.  We write and share in supportive, warm community!  Professional actors are auditioned annually to work with elders to put those stories on stage.

We also present on our work in Voices of Our Elders in the community (most recently at PCC, Marylhurst University, and OHSU’s Health Aging Conference).

Soldier's Heart, Artist Jenny KroikSoldier’s Heart

Soldier’s Heart is a creativity and story workshop at Portland Vet Center, open to veterans served by Portland Vet Center and referred by a staff counselor.  We use meditation, theatre exercises, visual art and writing to help veterans feel comfortable beginning to explain their experiences to those who are closest to them.  This is an annual, 2 month workshop with an invited read at the end of the workshop on location at Portland Vet Center.  Each veteran invites one family member or friend to hear their story.  The next workshop begins in September.

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