Community Building: Awareness & Empowerment

Resource Friends

Beth Popelka has followed a leading about theatre as a transformative practice that connects communities to the sacred since early in her adult life. For the past twenty years, she has worked to continue the legacy of Augusto Boal and other innovators to create dramatic group experiences that open communities to hidden sources of healing and wholeness.

“The exploration of embodied imagery empowers communities to face issues which they might otherwise avoid,” according to Beth. It helps them access others way of knowing. Ways that tap into the body’s wisdom.

The Wisdom of the Body to Heal Itself

“The body knows our condition if you will. It holds our traumas and our hurts. But, it can also open us to so much wisdom about coping with life and overcoming trauma and pain. When we get to be in our bodies, to enact our stories of pain and of joy as a group, we discover that our awareness of our needs and of others expands. Creating a connection,” says Beth.

“Not only that but the stories we tell ourselves about life, especially our lives and our troubles with others, come to be seen in a new and often healing light.” This is what makes the work so exciting for Beth. “For me, it is a sacred practice because, like Quaker meeting, when it works well, it is a collected peak experience that connects us to the mystery and wonder of being alive.”

A Source of Empathy and Compassion

At the recent, PYM Pastoral Care Thread Gathering, Beth led the morning workshop on responding to conflict in meeting. As each small group presented its embodied dramatic image, the picture-story of its conflict, Friends watching could be heard expressing sighs of recognition and “a-ha’s” of empathy and insight.

The compassion expressed by everyone to the image and the wisdom revealed in its embodied presentation was profound and moving. It led to a strong sense of empowerment, knowing that the solution to many of our problems may be found in the images we hold about them. And, that creatively embodying these image reveals a deep wisdom that leads to transformation and renewal for communities and individuals.

Beth Popelka is available as a Resource Friend to conduct Empowerment and Community Building Workshops and can be reached at