Using Theatre to Treat the Effects of Trauma: Integrating Shakespeare and Science in Healing-Centered Practice


DE-CRUIT program uses theatre—and specifically Shakespeare—to address traumatic stress and associated problems encountered by veterans as they navigate the transition from military life to civilian life.  The treatment program was originally designed specifically to address the range of military, pre-military and post-military traumas that veterans need to work through in order to move forward with their lives. However, working with family members of veterans, incarcerated populations, addicted populations in recovery and university students has shown the DE-CRUIT treatment method provides a controlled mechanism for civilians to access and examine charged memories as well.  

Therapists understand the profound healing that can occur when we “speak what we feel, not what we ought to say,” as Shakespeare writes in King Lear. But how can Shakespeare help us do this? Experience how classical actor training methods using body, breath, play, and awareness can help treat trauma across a range of populations. Drawing on psychological, social, and neurological science, the DE-CRUIT method encourages trauma survivors to use Shakespeare’s characters and spoken verse to awaken self-awareness, discover a new physical presence, observe inner thoughts and behaviors without judgment, and exchange limiting habits for new positive patterns of growth and reflection.


Join us for four sessions:

    July 19   – Theatre as Medicine – holding and creating secure spaces, check-in, and breath work

    July 26  – Embodying Shakespeare’s text & our own stories

    Aug 2    – Your Brain on Shakespeare – Shakespeare’s verse for regulation

    Aug 9    – Bringing It All Together – Communalization, wrap up, and reinforcement


Meet your instructors:

Dawn Stern is a New York City-based AEA/SAG-AFTRA actor, member of the off-Broadway theatre collective The Coop, and COO of the non-profit DE-CRUIT   She obtained her B.S. in Theatre Performance from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIU-E) and earned her AFTRA, AEA, and SAG union cards in St Louis and Chicago.  Dawn moved to Los Angeles in 1996 where she built a seventeen-year television acting career.  Dawn has taught The Business of Acting, movement, yoga, breath work and Shakespeare to veterans and students in the US at Syracuse University and Norwich University, Canada, Italy, Prague, and The Hague.  She currently is co-chair of the Inclusion Diversity Equity Accessibility (IDEA) committee for Shakespeare Theater Association (STA). 


Stephan Wolfert, Actor/Writer/Director; AEA/SAG member; U.S. Army ’86-’93 – Medic and Infantry Officer left his career in the military for a life in the theatre after seeing Shakespeare’s Richard III.  He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Trinity Reperatory Conservatory in Providence, Rhode Island.  Stephan founded the non-profit  DE-CRUIT  which received the 2020 Aaron Stein award from American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) given to an organization that utilizes creative applications of group therapy to benefit the community, especially in non-psychiatric settings.  Stephan has taught, directed and performed his award-winning play “Cry Havoc!” throughout North America, Europe and Australia.  He has served as an acting/character coach for Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere and worked on Broadway with Twyla Tharp creating and directing the military segments for the Tony-Award winning production Movin’ Out.  

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