AwareNow: Issue 7: The Return Edition

Page 15

KRISTEN: (continued) I’ve literally seen it all. I’m proud of how hardworking the theatre community is. Also, while we are searching for our own personal ways to stay afloat, we also are the first to speak out in the fight for social justice. When the BLM movement began, the theatre community voices were on the front lines fighting. Calling out the racial inequalities within our own industry and demanding change. It makes me proud to be a part of this massive group of fighters on so many levels. JENNY: Through your eyes, what kind of a toll has this experience taken on artists? On you? KRISTEN: A major toll, of course, is heavily on our bank accounts. If there’s no theatre, there’s no work. But there’s also the emotional toll. The mourning of what once was which becomes more intense as time goes on. I think that’s a shared sensation. I don’t know when it will truly be safe to reopen shows, and no one can tell us that for sure. I don’t know when people will even feel comfortable piling into a theatre to watch a show alongside hundreds of other people. So, the financial and emotional toll that this pandemic has taken on artists is pretty high, to say the least. JENNY: What do you want the public, consumers of art, to know or understand as we move forward together? KRISTEN: That what we do as artists is work. I think a lot of people have this idea that it’s a hobby or something. But theatre is as much our financial lifeline as it is for someone who works in a bank or for someone who flies planes. When we lose our job, we suffer the same consequences everyone else would. KRISTEN: Ok, my turn. What was it that drew you to becoming a psychologist in the first place? JENNY: After college I was working in the music business in New York City and making and pitching an album of my own music. I noticed that I was most content when exploring the experiences of others and bringing them to life through song. I did not enjoy the work of trying to convince people to like my art. I learned that I was too introverted for the hustle of NYC and I wanted to find a way to connect with people, to understand stories, in a quieter way. I also found myself struggling to make sense of the suicide of a very dear friend of mine. These factors combined and led me to pursue my doctorate in clinical psychology. KRISTEN: Was there a certain subject area of psychology that you were most drawn to? JENNY: Even before I went through any kind of training I remember thinking, “Wow. An event could occur in front of ten people, and there would be ten perspectives on what happened.” That concept fascinated me. The fancy word for that concept is phenomenology. I didn’t know that word then, but that is what I was drawn to. I wanted to understand, in a deeper and more educated way, how each of our individual experiences come with its own set of Truths. This path led me to come up against many of the ignorant aspects of psychology- there is so much racism, sexism and heteronormativity in its bones- and ignited my passion for social equity work. Understanding people individually, but also within their greater social and existential contexts is my life’s mission. KRISTEN: Now that we are knee deep in a pandemic, how has that changed the overall structure of your work? JENNY: Well for one, everything is entirely virtual. I am really surprised that it is working so well, I used to think there was no substitution for in person work. I still prefer sharing physical space, but I have known many of my patients for years so the transition has been fairly simple. There are other changes, too. Many people want multiple appointments a week. And people are in their homes. I see their dogs, I hear their babies. There is a surprising intimacy with being able to see parts of their lives I haven’t before. The cat I’ve heard about for years wanders through the screen…my patient and I laugh. We get a moment of connection, a moment of reprieve.