Michigan League Ballroom, backstage during a performance of People, Power, Place: Health, Race & Equity in Our Neighborhoods. A Research-Based Drama of the Stories Behind the Statistics.
“I’ve done theater all my life, onstage and behind the scenes, and since 2006 have facilitated theater workshops in a women’s prison in Ypsilanti. So when the U-M Educational Theatre Company asked me to perform in an original theater piece about health disparities in Washtenaw County, I said yes. We presented the show to the SPH community as part of a semester-long exploration of race at U-M. Afterward people told us things like, ‘you really brought those stories to life,’ ‘that was so powerful,’ ‘I really get it.’
“I’m very interested in figuring out ways to communicate health information to people, and theater can be a really effective tool—especially in resource-poor areas. Anybody can do theater. It’s not about doing it perfectly, it’s about storytelling.
“I think theater is all the more important today because human connection is one thing that gets lost in all the electronic conversations we’re having. There’s a lot to be said for technology—it’s very useful and can be extremely cost-effective. But anything that takes a real experience and turns it into a performance, or has the audience come up and act out the solution to a problem—anything like that really sticks in people’s minds. The places where health information is most needed are often places that don’t have access to smartphones, for example. Theater’s free. It’s easy. It’s a human-to-human connection, and that feels very important.”
—Carol Gray, second-year MPH student, health behavior and health education