April 20, 2015


WAI Writers

We partner with area organizations to provide a creative, artistic experience for their members.

We employ a collaborative process that includes creative writing for the theatre, bringing together professional artists and community members.  

Workshops and Production offer the writers a space to share stories of challenge and triumph and beauty and gratitude in a cohesive evening of theatre. 

Darcell Dance
(Jump at the Sun, in partnership with Delta Sigma Theta)

Writers of Jump at the Sun

My name is Darcell Dance and I coordinated with Well Arts to bring Jump at the Sun (An Inter-generational Women’s Theater Project) to our organization. It was my plan to help coordinate and not be a participant, but we were short on writers one day during a writing workshop session and I reluctantly became a writer. Because of this experience I will never be the same. 

I have worked in the mental health field for nearly 20 years and I am accustomed to hearing the stories of others. During the workshop I shared stories that I had previously never shared or given much thought to for many years. My mother and daughter were also a part of this project. My mother was a writer and my daughter was her scribe.   In our community the message that we often teach is  that what we experience in our homes and lives is “family business” or our own personal business.  Through Jump at  the Sun, I was able to show by example that healing can take place for myself and others by sharing those intimate stories and making greater sense and meaning out of them. 

In my own life I am a very private person, so sharing my stories and having them performed on stage took an even greater leap of faith than sharing my story with my scribe or even with my mother and daughter. The team at Well Arts, including the director and actors were very respectful and honoring of my trust. The audience was also affirming and the feedback that we received after the performances confirmed that the leap of faith that I took landed me into caring and supportive arms. I am thankful for the opportunity for myself, my family, the other writers, my organization, and our greater community. It is my prayer that Well Arts will thrive and will continue to make healing through the arts a reality for many more individuals and groups in our community. Blessing! 

Danae Davison
(Fierce Love, in partnership with United Cerebral Palsy)

Signing up for the “Fierce Love” project, I had no expectations beyond having an interesting and possibly cathartic experience. I was in a dark place over my young daughter’s diagnosis and was unsure if our family could recover from the perceived tragedy of her disabilities. My experience with Well Arts was truly transformative. In fact, I’m not sure I would have come to so openly accept or embrace her disabilities had it not been for what became the ‘intensive mentoring’ sessions of the writing workshops.

[The facilitator] brought an atmosphere of compassion and non-judgment that provided a safe forum for our most vulnerable truths. Getting to know the other mothers, hearing their perspectives so different from my own, and growing to deeply respect and care for each other, gave me a new perspective – a joyful one. One that found exceptionality instead of tragedy in my daughter’s life. How can I possibly thank Well Arts enough for a gift like that?

It was lucky that our particular writing group came together, although some of that chance was steered by the thoughtful outreach of Susan, and we were so fortunate to have [the director’s] uncanny genius in the project as well as the talented actors and meticulous stage manager, and I know that there is the possibility of this being the last show… but whatever happens with Well Arts, you will always be in the kind thoughts of this family as you have made a very significant change in our world. Thank you so very much.

IMG_0695Nicole ‘Smith’ Silverman
(Fierce Love, in partnership with United Cerebral Palsy)

I have to say, I am so thankful to www.wellarts.org for what they do. They took these 6 crazy, all over the place moms… Helped us reach into our souls and share our stories! I’m also proud of the writers! It’s so easy to live day to day and not really think or deal with “life”. It could have been a real fluffy experience. But we all chose to do hard work, ask hard questions and remember painful times. We also said out loud, or on paper, things we’ve never been able to say before. The result is this life-changing, really authentic, funny play… But more than that… This process changed our very lives… It led to this incredible, healing transformation inside of me… And for that reason alone I am forever grateful!

I can’t thank you enough for this beautiful experience and journey you’ve brought me through. I have never done anything like this process before… and it blew me away… and changed my life.

At the very first workshop, [the facilitator] asked us what we were looking to get out of the writing sessions. I remember sharing how I wanted to find my voice again. My mind was so boggled down, so stressed out and overwhelmed that I literally felt like I couldn’t even think or process… let alone talk.

As we began writing about our lives, I literally started to feel “life” creep back into me.  We began sharing our stories… the good times, the dark times… We started laughing, crying, and growing together and it was beautiful.

I’m so thankful for both [facilitator/directors], and what brilliant facilitators they are.  They allowed us to freely share all thoughts and viewpoints openly and without fear of judgment or being self-conscious.  They could have easily just put on the “workshop” but they didn’t. They put themselves into our shoes, our everyday lives and literally became a part of our stories… our families… our special needs children.

I had no idea what to expect when we brought the actors on board. Wow… It has been awesome. I hate missing a single night!  I know we’re working on a “play”… but it’s seriously more than that.  Our lives are being transformed right before us. Every night I learn something new, have a different view point, or need to process another big “angle” on life. What makes me smile the most about all this… My little boy… he can’t even talk… he’s pretty developmentally delayed… yet, the impact his little life has made in this world… it is absolutely amazes me. The network that he has around him… the village he has behind him…  the power of his story is so far reaching, it just totally blows my mind.

Thank you for giving us such a great gift and chance to bring our incredible children and our stories to the world.
Forever grateful

Gary Gilbert
(The Unexpected Guest, in partnership with MS Society of Oregon)

Actors Samson Syharath, Sean Andries, Writer Gary Gilbert, The Unexpected Guest

In 2014 I was given the amazing opportunity to participate in the creation and production of The Unexpected Guest.  My work with Well Arts was a profoundly meaningful experience.  With some firm yet gentle persuasion from the Oregon Chapter National Multiple Sclerosis Society, I became a reluctant playwright.

As the creative process ensued with the phenomenal encouragement from [the facilitator] and my fellow writers, our stories unfolded from the depths of our experiences.  Many of these stories had been buried in our subconscious for a long time.  Bringing them to the light was deeply cathartic.

I was apprehensive about how the audience would receive our revelations.  My concerns were completely unfounded; they loved it!  We sold out every show and received ovations each time.  With the steady guidance of the director, our fine troupe of actors performed their tricky roles with skill and sensitivity.  After each show, members of the audience would state how much they had learned from the performance.

The collaboration between Well Arts and the many service groups they represent is immensely important.  It provides the members of that group with a creative outlet in which to find their voices and blossom in the process.  And the stories they tell serve to enlighten the community and plant the seeds for understanding and compassion.  It would be a real shame if this invaluable coalition was not able to continue.

Katharine Rose
(Voices of our Elders, in partnership with Friendly House)

I began with Well Arts in two thousand eleven in a writing group for elders at Friendly House.   I remember I felt like I was an imposter because I hadn’t written anything except for my private self. We were reassured that we could join and there was reassurance we would be helped with our own stories.  That was a wonderful beginning and I am still writing for myself today.

Well Arts allowed me to tell the stories that jangle in my head. Writing is a wonderful outlet for me and a window into my life for others.  When the stories were performed on stage I felt heard.  The more I wrote and shared, the more the audience was reminded of an event and what those events meant in my life.  Writing is an outlet for my thoughts and ideas.  I am very grateful to Well Arts and I encourage you to support this wonderful organization.  

Amanda AndersenAmanda Andersen
(The Unexpected Guest, Just Like You)

I’ve done two of their shows and this an opportunity you don’t wanna miss.

…To perform in a show written by folks who face stigma and/or illness is an incredible experience. The fact that you embody someone else’s story who’s not used to it is unlike any other.

12715362_10153561639677669_7461119264207316388_n-2Patti Jay
(Breaking Rank)

I remember the day I learned of a creative project for women veterans.

I had heard very little of Well Arts but had connections with Returning Veterans Project, and was fond of Wise Counsel so I decided to take a chance.  I had no idea how that decision would forever impact my life.  The process of writing my life story, connecting my military experiences to my childhood, and participating in the transformation to stage has been a therapy beyond words.

The collaboration between the five writers and with the actors who tell our story is a bond that will not be broken, not forgotten and emblazoned on our hearts. Our Well Arts Director, Jessica Dart, has become a trusted friend to all of us, teaching us the proper and most effective methods of writing our stories for the stage, and leading with such heart and compassion.  Her blend of professional direction and easy going personality softened us towards her, giving voice to stories not often told, if at all.   Thank you to the entire staff of Well Arts for your encouragement and graciousness.


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