A Story Triptych by Performance Artist Leslie Grasa
Colorado based artist, teacher, and healer, Leslie Grasa uses the term “Story Triptych” to describe the performance piece she shares with us here. As part of her Capstone project for her Master of Divinity degree from Naropa University, she performed this short telling, in which she recounts a single story from her childhood three different times. Each time, she adds new layers to the narrative. In doing so, she deepens her understanding of the event, along with ours, as she goes.
Seeing this piece reminded me of a writing prompt I worked with several years ago in a workshop led by spiritual memoir author and teacher, Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew. Elizabeth asked us to take a familiar story from our lives and write it exactly as we’ve always told or heard it. After finishing this version, she asked us to “put on a different pair of glasses”—a new perspective from which to look at the event in question—and to re-write the story through that lens.
I had chosen a childhood story that always gets a hearty laugh, in which the punchline is that I was a precocious, mischief-maker as a five-year-old. My first thought when Elizabeth encouraged us to choose new glasses was Fear. But I sat for a long while with my pen motionless, not wanting to look at the story through those glasses. When I finally did, I had a moment of new awareness that stunned me. In the middle of a busy workshop, I had a transformative realization that helped me hear my own story, not the version that had always been told about me.
In Leslie’s performance piece, called The Fire Pole, this idea of reframing—of mining our memories for new understanding—is demonstrated with a warmth and fearlessness that draws me in immediately.
More about Leslie
In addition to being a performance artist, Leslie is a Reiki Master in the Usui Shiki Ryoho System, and has been initiated in the Hungarian Bacsa Shamanic tradition. She is also a Laughter Yoga Ambassador and Leader, facilitating laughter yoga for 150 people from around the world almost every night. “The magic of that process I can’t even explain,” she told me. “Language is not a barrier because it is unnecessary.”
Of her artistic mission, she says: “I weave the power of energy work, contemplation, and laughter with the world of theatre and story to support people in accessing higher levels of consciousness and remembering their Basic Goodness and the perfection of their own unique hero’s journey. Whether working with clients and students, or performing original work inspired by dreams and fairy tales, I am passionate about the ancient practice of using stories and ritual to bring healing to individuals and communities.”
For more of Leslie’s work, visit her YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/@lesliegrasa9588/featured
Aliveness springs from our making something of what we experience and receiving what experience makes of us.
Ann Belford Ulanov
Love it! We too did a “looking with a different lens” in our writing group and it yields surprising insights, Leslie’s piece offers a beautiful, succinct message of what can mean to see multiple layers in our own stories.
Yes, Kary! So cool how many insights can emerge that we don’t expect. With Leslie’s piece, I appreciated seeing this “lenses” approach play out in performance art versus the written page. Felt like I was bearing witness to her unfolding insights.