Hope Singsen is an NYC artist, activist and researcher, and now the Founder, Artistic Director and Host of the first-ever #HealMeToo Festival & Podcast. Hope’s work investigates the mechanisms within creativity that support personal and cultural change. This work informed the development of her solo play with music, SKIN, and continues in Participatory Workshops and Art|Sci collaborations that explore embodiment, neuroscience and healing through the arts. You can hear Hope speak about this work on a #HealMeToo Podcast Extra.
the solo play with music
In this frank and funny queer love story, two things threaten a grad student’s dissertation on Virginia Woolf: her hot new girlfriend and the echoes of her own dark past.
SKIN explores some of the ways art helps us heal, as the grad student races to write herself into a happier future. Both work and sex get inventive as she strives for a love greater than any she’s known before. But after you learn to guard against life, can you open up again?
SKIN is directed by Jessi D. Hill, with original music by Hope Singsen, Bob Parins, Dillon Kondor and Micah Burgess. Meet the SKIN team.
Listen to #HealMeToo Podcast Episode 7 to hear Hope unpack questions about the healing process often prompted by SKIN, in dialogue with sex educator & relationship advisor Elise Schuster, and Art Therapist Valeria Koutmina.
articles & essays
Where Research Meets Practice
Interactive conversations about the play set the stage for exercises, information, and tools that help people foster resilience, understand neuroplasticity, and engage in creative practice to support healing.
Relationships, Resiliency & Repairing the Culture
This interactive 3-hour workshop engages participants in imaginative conversations about events in SKIN to communicate core principles of: healthy relationships and consent; the neuropsychology of trauma and techniques for healing; and bystander intervention techniques that can empower people to reduce and prevent potential harm. All within a clearly communicated set of agreements for community safety, and explored through trauma-informed exercises that introduce skills that survivors and allies can start applying on the spot. Learn more
Neuroplasticity & The Arts
This 3-hour workshop offers a foundational understanding of the ways any trauma is believed to impact the brain, body, and self, then uses participants’ shared experiences viewing SKIN as a jumping off point to introduce theories of the ways that art-making and -viewing may be used to aid healing. Concrete examples are found in the therapeutic pedagogy at work in SKIN, as well as in participants’ other positive, powerful artistic experiences. Trauma-informed participatory exercises engage the imagination and the senses to intrigue, inform, and inspire students to activate their own creativity as a mode of healing. Learn more
Writing & Sharing Your Story
This 3-hour session will use SKIN as a model to share skills and techniques for writing autobiographically or fictively from life. We’ll explore ways writing our stories can give us tools for personal and cultural healing which continue in navigating the growth opportunities that come while sharing what you’ve written—whether that’s reading it for a friend or a class, posting it, or performing it for an audience. Participants will leave feeling empowered to use the arts more consciously and conscientiously as a channel for personal and cultural healing. Learn more
Impacts & Assessments
Singsen conducts audience surveys, talkbacks and one-on-one interviews following performances of SKIN to measure its impacts and explore the sensory, emotional and cognitive effects of embodied creativity. At the Alliance for Arts in Research Universities national conference in November 2018, she presented this research on a discussion panel addressing neuroaesthetics and the use of the arts in public health. You can listen to the talk on the #HealMeToo Podcast.
Post-performance assessments have demonstrated that artists, students, scholars, scientists, and, especially, survivors and their supporters respond to SKIN and its co-curricular events in powerful ways.
One grad student described SKIN as a turning point in her journey of recovery.
A dance student raced home to choreograph her own story of healing.
Another immediately wrote and posted a love poem, quoting the play.
A drama major/math minor interviewed Singsen on pairing science with art.
A student investigating bullying started to discern the links between vulnerability and shame.
Students and faculty alike reported that SKIN gave voice to their struggles and breakthroughs in academic writing.
"Anyone writing a thesis should see this play."
--Vassar College Administrator
Dutchess community College student
“I’ve never met anyone who ...with such kindness and gentleness...told their story so raw. It was incredibly beautiful and I don’t think I’ll ever feel alone in this again. Thank you for being brave. You made me brave.”
Vassar College student
“There is something truly magical in the way you’ve managed to combine love, hardship, passion, and memory into art. SKIN was one of the most engaging and honest shows I’ve ever seen.”
jaye murray, executive director, counseling support program, nyc dept of education
"Empowering. Inspiring. Funny! A critically important topic handled sensitively and creatively. Thank you!"
Zoe Ridolfi-starr, columbia university class of '15 and co-founder of no red tape with The mattress project's emma sulkowicz
"I connected deeply with SKIN. ...I highly recommend this play for anyone who has confronted trauma--or cares about someone who has."
Photos: ©Karl Rabe/Vassar College