The Naples Players offering nonverbal mental health sessions for post-Ian stress

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

The Naples Players are offering sessions of theater-inspired nonverbal mental health to help people take care of themselves during the stressful time after Hurricane Ian.

In these sessions, the Naples Players, located at the Sugden Community Theatre at 701 5th Ave. S., use techniques like improvisation, image theater and object work. Sometimes talking about things can be hard, especially when you’ve been through something like a major hurricane. This method provides a different way of viewing things and communicating your feelings.

You would not be exploring these nonverbal approaches alone either, as the theatre troupe actually has a licensed on-site therapist to help you process things and give you the opportunity for one-on-one talks, too.

The Naples Players say these nonverbal approaches can be fun, too; it doesn’t have to be serious. It can be a fun way to see neighbors, connect with friends you haven’t seen in a while, meet someone new or just have a good time.

The Naples Players at Sugden Community Theatre, with a poster advertising a production of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.” Credit: WINK News

“Needing the laughter?” said Craig Price, director of education and wellness for the Naples Players. “I mean, for sure, that is the first thing I’ve noticed is that release of tension and being able to have a place to come and laugh and connect with other people”

“Yeah, absolutely,” said Summer Pliskow, art and health specialist for the Naples Players. “And a lot of the classes that we do, it really is about building that community, building that communication technique.”

The goal is to form connections on a broad community level and help people connect with themselves. The idea for the nonverbal activities came from the Naples Players’ work with people on the autism spectrum and people with disabilities.

“You can express these things through your body, which also carries a lot of emotional trauma as well,” Pliskow said. “We are using our entire body as well in these workshops. So we have image theatre, we have improv, and we’re also using object work. We have, a lot of times used objects to express ourselves, belongings, but every object has a story, just like we do. So, if we can use an object to tell that story, instead of necessarily having to tell our life story, our personal story, that’s another form of self-expression. It’s all about finding creative outlets to express ourselves.”

The Naples Players will have a free class Saturday at 4 p.m. and they will continue to have these workshops on the first Saturday of every month. If you can’t make it to a class or you’re looking for something different, the healing doesn’t have to stop there; the Naples Players said coming to a normal show can also prove therapeutic.

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