"WHAT IS IN US MUST OUT..."
These are the words of the renowned stress researcher Hans Selye. They convey what Visceral's four subjects experience when they perform. They are not professional actors, but they're like many people with PTS who experience a breakthrough by performing.
Carissa, Jon, Etiene and Charlie, are living with the impact of complex post-traumatic stress (PTS). They discover that rage, isolation, physical pain, substance abuse, and poor mental health caused by PTS rob them of their health and their will to live. But when they perform in musicals, dramatic theatre and Shakespeare productions, they recapture their vital life force. For them, performing works like nothing else has before. They begin healing by getting the support they need because they’re connected to others onstage, and off.
Key PTS neurophysiology themes are presented by Stephen Porges, PhD; Bessel van der Kolk, MD, Gabor Maté, MD, and Michael McBride, MD. These include how PTS affects the nervous system leaving people with PTS to feel constantly in a threat-surveillance state; and, how a the residue of unprocessed trauma, “plays out in the landscape of their bodies,” said Bessel van der Kolk, MD. The invisible scars of PTS are embedded viscerally – deep in the tissues of their bodies’ system and begin to affect every aspect of their existence, leading to damaged relationships and shattering hopes for a meaningful life.
"HUMAN CONNECTION IS A BIOLOGICAL IMPERATIVE"
STEPHEN PORGES, PHD
VISCERAL PRODUCTION TEAM
AMY L. ERICKSON
Amy grew up near Detroit in the 60s in a family of singers. This, along with the music of Motown and Burt Bacharach blaring on her kitchen radio helped her learn to sing by ear. She also loved to dance and stared working at age 13 to take jazz lessons. These, combined with her introduction to musical theatre as a child, nurtured Amy’s love of the performing arts. But in her 20s, the singing and dancing stopped due to the impact of early-childhood trauma. The physical and emotional pain kept her shut down. Then, in her 40s, she found the courage to perform in a musical theatre production and rediscovered the vitality she felt in her youth. This proved to be the first step of healing from PTS. Amy was inspired to create Visceral after working with the Community Resilience Initiative in Walla Walla in 2010. She also is trained as a traumatic-stress responder by First Aid Arts, Seattle, WA.
In 2017, Amy received a WA state Artist Trust Grant for Artists’ Projects for Visceral, and an Artist Residency at the Jack Straw Cultural Center, Seattle.
And yes, she still sings and dances! Since 2010 she’s performed in six musical productions, continues to sing with a community choir, and takes musical theatre dance classes. For her, movement, voice, and social engagement through the performing arts continue to be life-giving forces.
Mike is a passionate scriptwriter and active supporter of military veterans in his community of Bellingham, WA. His favorite script (in development) is Battle Cries of the Forgotten, the story of Joe Foss, a United States Marine Corps major. Foss was the leading Marine fighter-ace in World War II, and received the Medal of Honor in recognition of his role in air combat during the Guadalcanal Campaign. In addition to scriptwriting, Mike’s hobbies include writing music for guitar and piano, golfing, picking-up trash, and caring for military veterans and others who are experiencing homelessness in his community.
Executive Producer & Editor
Ryan brings 20+ years in video production to Visceral as both executive producer and editor. He was attracted to Visceral because as someone who studied theatre and performed onstage, Ryan recognized the importance of the film’s message. Ryan has worked on both sides of the camera, and has worked throughout the US and internationally for companies ranging from non-profits to multi-billion dollar enterprises. As a director, shooter and editor, Ryan has the rare ability to take a story from conception to final delivery, which allows the client to have a one-stop shop for decisions, questions and creative. Drawing from his decade of experience in front of the camera, Ryan is able to take that practice and use it to connect with actors of all abilities.
Editor & Cinematographer
Wisconsin native Joe Lindner (above) is one of the first videographers to work on Visceral in 2016. He's since taken on the role of editor, playing an instrumental role in shaping this documentary. Joe is a 2015 graduate of University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, with a BFA in film, and a focus on experimental documentaries. His company, Badger Creative is a full-service creative agency movie-making enterprise.
Animator & Artist
“Working on Visceral has been an amazing experience. Being able to collaborate with Amy and help bring light to her vision and to these stories is such an honor. While working on this project, I have learned so much about post-traumatic stress, and what the human body is capable of. I've loved exploring ways to bring creative visuals to the medical terminology.” Alyssa joined the Visceral team in 2016, bringing the stories in Visceral to life with her illustration and animation talent. A graduate of Vancouver Institute of Media Arts, Alyssa is currently working at WildBrain in Vancouver, BC. Her most recent work can be seen in the production of “Snoopy in Space” on Apple TV. She’s also created animation for the adventure show called "HarmonQuest" and a preschool show called "Chip and Potato." Her first production was a children's show called "1001 nights." She also created animation for "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."
Rena is a Grand Rapids, Michigan based composer, music instructor, singer/songwriter, and pianist. She earned her Masters in music in 2014 at the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Institute, studying film music composition with Hummie Mann. Rena received her Bachelors degree in music composition from the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theater and Dance in 2013. Her musical styles include: symphonic classical, pop, folk, sacred harp, tango, electronic, film scores, musical theater, modern concert music, video game soundtracks, church music. She says she has a "nerdy passion" for music theory, and loves writing music for media.
Michael Frank is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee's Film Department and a long-time videographer for Feast of Crispian, Shakespeare with Veterans. He currently works in Milwaukee, WI as videographer and editor; making music videos and shooting event and corporate video. Michael's passion for performance in theater and music has drawn him toward the performing arts as a subject for his own films and has allowed him to collaborate fruitfully with other artists. He's extremely proud to have been a contributor to Visceral, having witnessed the profound nature of the film's subject matter first-hand.
Tom has contributed his 50-years of film and video industry expertise as a cinematographer on the Visceral team. His award-wining career includes a decade working at Nebraska Education Television Network. From there, Tom moved to Seattle in 1979 to work with PBS station KCTS-9, where he focused on a variety of TV programming, shooting shows such as Bill Nye the Science Guy; Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa, and Rick Steves, and numerous other PBS documentaries for twenty-five years. Due to PBS funding challenges, Tom moved on the Seattle Channel, Seattle's government channel shooting mini-documentaries, informational and cultural programming.