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The transformative and therapeutic power of Performing Arts

By Darrion M Narine

Programme Manager, CCSJ


In the heart of La Romaine, where the vibrant culture of Trinidad meets the hopes of many families seeking new beginnings, the La Romaine Migrants Ministry (LARMS) has hosted classes for vulnerable children for the past five years.

After visiting the space a few times and speaking with Angie (the founder of LARMS), I decided to do a drama session for the children since I strongly believe that the arts fosters healing and growth.

The session not only introduces children to the joy of performing but also plays a crucial role in helping them navigate and heal from the traumas of displacement and upheaval.

Thus far, the sessions have had a profound effect on the children with many of them finding a new way to express their feelings and emotions.

The sessions have also moved me in ways that I did not expect, as it gave me new perspectives on the realities that so many children face daily. Many of the children are faced with challenges and hurdles that force them to adjust quickly. Luckily, I have seen how drama and the arts have a therapeutic effect on children as it gives them the space to play, which is an essential part of the childhood experience.

The impact of the performing arts is deeply rooted in the understanding of the human person, as seen through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching which emphasises the inherent dignity and worth of every individual. From this perspective, the performing arts are not merely entertainment; they are a powerful medium for human expression and transformation.

Engaging in drama and performance activates multiple areas of the brain, including those responsible for movement, speech, and emotional regulation. This holistic engagement can significantly contribute to neurological development and resilience, aiding children who have experienced trauma in finding new pathways to healing and expression.

It helps synchronise the mind and body, fostering a sense of control and self-awareness that is often compromised in traumatic situations.

Psychologically, the performing arts provide a safe space for expression and confrontation of feelings. Through role-play and storytelling, children can externalise their inner experiences, viewing them through the narratives they create and perform. This not only facilitates a cathartic release but also contributes to cognitive and emotional processing of traumatic events.

The rehearsal process itself, which involves repetition and reflection, can be particularly therapeutic, helping participants to process and integrate traumatic experiences in a controlled and supportive environment.

On a sociological level, participating in drama helps foster a sense of community and belonging, critical factors in the social integration of migrant children.

By working together towards a common goal, participants develop social skills, empathy, and mutual respect. These are foundational for building relationships and integrating into new communities, helping children to feel less isolated and more connected to their new environment.

The performing arts also mirror the Church’s mission of healing and reconciliation. In His ministry, Jesus often used storytelling to enlighten, teach, and heal. Similarly, the performing arts can be a form of storytelling that not only entertains but also heals and educates.

By engaging in these artistic expressions, children learn to tell their own stories, which is essential for personal and communal healing.

At LARMS, the introduction of drama sessions will lead to increased self-confidence, improved mood, and better social interactions among the children. The performing arts can be used to restore a sense of normalcy and joy in the lives of those who have experienced significant trauma.

The Church teaches us about the redemptive power of suffering and the hope of transformation. In a similar vein, the performing arts offer a path through which suffering can be articulated, shared, and transformed. It is a journey from isolation to expression, from despair to hope, from fragmentation to wholeness.

As we continue to explore and expand such programmes, we embrace the full potential of the arts not only in fostering individual well-being but also in building more compassionate and resilient communities.

In this way, we truly live out the call to heal and uplift the dignity of every child, reflecting the love and compassion at the heart of the Gospel.


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