#HealMeToo Festival & Podcast Present: SKIN

“Amazing show… Fabulous evening.”—Tony award-winner Tonya Pinkins

“One of the best solo plays I have ever seen. a stunning evening...”—Elizabeth Van Dyke, award-winning director, Ensemble Studio Theatre

SKIN is a queer love story with music about reclaiming sex, love and wholeness after sexual violence.

In this frank and funny solo show, two things threaten a grad student’s dissertation on Virginia Woolf: her hot new girlfriend and 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. Her work and sex both 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?

Created & performed by the founder and artistic director of the #HealMeToo Festival, Hope Singsen. Directed by Jessi D. Hill. Music by Hope Singsen, Bob Parins, Micah Burgess and Dillon Kondor.

#hEALMETOO podcast Episode 7 > see episode details

In #HealMeToo Podcast Episode 7, the sex educator, relationship advisor & co-founder of okayso.app, Elise Schuster (bio), joins therapist Valeria Koutmina (bio) of The Art Therapy Project to discuss questions raised by SKIN about the healing process with artist, activist and researcher, Hope Singsen.

podcast extra:

In a related Podcast Extra, you’ll hear a recording of the talk Hope gave at the national conference of the Alliance for Arts in Research Universities, about the ways she is using SKIN to (hopefully) help audiences move toward healing, and how she is demonstrating these impacts through audience research.

hear more of the #hEALMETOO podcast

read Hope’s blog posts on SKIN

skin Testimonials

“A powerful exploration of self, touch, time, and healing. SKIN took my breath away.”—Audience Member

“Incredible… A tour de force.”—Audience Member

"I will look back on seeing SKIN as the turning point in my journey to heal." —University of Georgia Audience Member

"Empowering. Inspiring. Funny! A critically important topic handled sensitively and creatively."—Exec. Dir. NYC Dept of Education Counseling & Support Program

“Beautiful, brave, raw, and real. As complex, layered and as deeply investigated as anything Woolf wrote. I feel lucky I saw it.”—Brian McManamon, Julliard School Guest Director

"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.”—Dutchess College Audience Member

“Magical… 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.”—Vassar College Audience Member

"Tender, playful, clever, and nuanced – I highly recommend SKIN for anyone who has confronted trauma or cares about someone who has."—Zoe Ridolfi-Starr, Co-Founder with Mattress Performance artist Emma Sulkowicz of Columbia University direct action activist group, No Red Tape

“I was healed by honesty.”—NYU Audience Member

“A stunning evening of theatre. The acting is superb: rooted in truth, nuanced and subtle. The script is excellent: so intelligent, well written, conceived. I was blown away.”—Elizabeth Van Dyke, Award-winning Director, Ensemble Studio Theatre

#healmetoo Podcast Episode 7 details

Elise schuster and Valeria Koutmina share their professional perspectives as Hope offers examples from personal life as well as within her play, SKIN, to illuminate: 

  • Why it takes so long to recognize and recover from impacts of sexual violence

  • Why it's often hard to know how "healed" we are, and what to expect from healing

  • Why it takes time to change behaviors after they’re set, and how our assumptions about the process can make it more difficult

  • Ways that sexual trauma can create issues around identity, shame, safety, trust, sex itself, learned helplessness, self-doubt, and an impression our bodies are vehicles for pain

  • How cultural ideas about sexuality can get in the way for survivors and non-survivors alike

  • Why believing we are “broken” and needing to be "fixed" contributes to a feeling of helplessness -- even as we feel we have to present ourselves as unharmed

  • How nonverbal art-making within a therapeutic relationship helps, using the same parts of the brain where trauma was originally stored

  • Ideas to help practice new ways of healing, like:

    • Cultivating self-compassion instead of self-blame and helplessness

    • Recognizing that the healing process doesn’t make rational sense, and celebrating strengths that emerge, like the ability to reach out for help

    • Taking breaks to put aside the work and feelings sometimes to get some distance

    • Shifting from “I am this” to understanding “I do this,” to find the space to change what Brenee Brown calls “the story we are telling ourselves”


Podcast Guest Bios

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Elise Schuster is a long time sexuality educator and youth development worker with a masters in public health from columbia university. Elise has sold sex toys and taught workshops on pleasure-based sexual health at Babeland and worked for many years at The Door - New York City's largest youth-serving agency. Elise is currently the founder of okayso.app, a free app that helps connect folks with questions about sex, dating, identity and more to teams of vetted experts who provide confidential, accurate, and empathetic support.  

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Valeria Koutmina is a board certified creative art therapist and rape crisis counselor. She is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts Art Therapy Master's Program. Val has worked with a range of populations in the United States and abroad, specializing in issues of trauma and abuse. Sensory integration, metaphor, humor and play have significant roles in her approach to improve self-awareness, promote resiliency, and empower working toward well-being. Val is one of the therapists at The Art Therapy Project--the only non-profit in New York dedicated solely to providing guided art therapy to those seeking hope and support.