Colorado Springs actor, jury trial professional helps attorneys, others enhance private, skilled lives with theater methods | Arts & Leisure

Every day, every day, each of us tells stories.

For ourselves, often for others. Stories about why we are who we are. Stories about what others have done to us. Or the world.

Sometimes these stories are painful, sometimes uplifting. Sometimes wrong, sometimes colored by other people’s stories about us.

Jesse Wilson was stuck in the middle of a story that nearly killed him. The Juilliard School graduate worked as an actor in Philadelphia more than 20 years ago. On the surface, he was creative. Underneath, he was dying, a drug addict, and feeling helpless.

“I thought my heart was going to give up one night,” said the Colorado Springs resident. “It was a foxhole prayer: God, please don’t let me die. I don’t want to be a victim. The work I am doing now is living reparation.

He changed his story and got sober. And now he’s helping other people use the power and magic of theater to change their stories and the way they tell other stories. In his “Tell the Winning Story” workshops, he helps lawyers tell better stories about their clients so that juries can see them in a different light, and helps business people be more effective in the boardroom. In his Lessons From the Stage workshops, he helps people rewrite the stories of their personal and professional lives and empowers them to become what they have dreamed of or achieve what they have always wanted.

“I want you to go and see your role as a teacher, whether you are a literal teacher or not,” said Wilson. “Because you have to keep the lessons, you have to give them away. Everyone is a teacher. And when you see yourself in this role, it’s amazing what creativity comes your way. It’s not about you anymore, but what can you share with the world? It’s a service mentality. It readjusts your relationship with the world. “

He will lead the one-day workshop “Lessons From the Stage: Write Your Greater Story” with visiting professor Claire Lautier on June 19 at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts. To kick off the workshop, Wilson will perform his free solo show “Goodbye to the Butterfly Place” on June 11th in Cottonwood. The coming-of-age story records the relationship between him and his mother. Reservations are required as seating is remote and limited.

In September, Wilson is offering the two-day workshop “Tell the Winning Story: CLE Trial Skills Workshop” in Cottonwood.

Behind the scenes at the not-for-profit arts complex in downtown Colorado Springs

The development of his workshops began about seven years ago, or as Wilson likes to say: “So I’m in prison.” No, he didn’t have time. He was there with friend David Fein, coaching inmates through a program based on Stephen Covey’s 1989 book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Wilson brought back techniques from his acting days, including working with masks and monologues, and it was a hit. “Lessons From the Stage” emerged from this work.

“Sharing theater with people who may care about theater is a real litmus test,” said Wilson. “Sure, improvisation is fun – there is a lot to be said about playing. But when you work with people who had to change their lives yesterday, are broken, are in pain and are stuck in this old story, that was a turning point. “

Wilson led her away from her stories of fear, judgment, old beliefs, and self-judgment and toward a new paradigm by letting her create her own 3 to 4 minute story. Some inmates played the role of their victims. Others created scripts in which they spoke to their victims. And they put these mini solo shows on for their fellow inmates.

“What made these stories so strong on stage wasn’t that these inmates got raw, real, and vulnerable,” said Wilson. “These stories held up a mirror up to all the hundreds of inmates who were watching. Because the story you tell on stage is not your story. It’s the human story. Once you have defined or clarified where you want to go in your life, you can put your feet to the fire here and create a game of your life that makes yourself emotionally and personally responsible for making this change in your life. “

“Tell the winning story”

Shortly after the prison experience, Wilson was tapped to give a communication presentation with a group of litigation attorneys that he found to be using psychodrama, a method in which participants use drama and role-playing to gain insight. It was in line with what he was already teaching from his theater background. Soon he was working with lawyers and witnesses. This resulted in his workshop “Tell the Winning Story”.

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“I found so many lawyers got the story wrong,” said Wilson. “They tell the jury the victim’s story, wondering why they don’t win and why nobody cares. Because you tell the story of pain. You don’t want to define your client by their pain. You want to define them through the power to overcome their pain. That is the winning story. “

Springs attorney Tim Bussey was one of a group of attorneys who attended Wilson’s workshop that fall. He hoped to improve his communication skills. He left with a better idea of ​​heroes and villains and how to use those archetypes in the courtroom.

“Villains aren’t always villains,” Bussey said. “Nobody ever sees themselves as a villain. In a courtroom, it is sometimes important to recognize this in a witness. You have to tell the story and make sure the jury understands it. “

“Lessons from the stage”

Deciphering what we really want in life and stepping into that story is at the heart of Wilson’s Lessons From the Stage workshop. He believes that through the power of theater we can empower and motivate ourselves to realize our dreams, be it dreams of another career or of living a different quality in ourselves, such as learning to forgive.

“The question I always ask is what would the piece of your life be like?” Said Wilson. “Here you will create the game of your life. This is your life masterpiece. Your greatest expression of yourself. Everything I teach always comes back to communication. Communication breakthroughs are what I manage. “

Similar to the prisoners, the workshop participants create a 3 to 4 minute scene. The core question of the scene: What do you really want? He helps people find answers through a set of theatrical techniques before asking them to perform for the group.

A few years ago Ross Jacobsen was going through turbulent times, both privately and professionally, and thought that a weekend with a focus on self-development could clear up a lot. What he learned in Wilson’s workshop has stayed with him.

“I looked for control in many areas of my life and tried hard to make things happen,” said Jacobsen, a Springs resident. “What I realized was that I had to let go.”

Wilson asked group members to find a word to use as an intention. Jacobsen landed on “allow,” which became his topic for the weekend and his final monologue.

“For the next few weeks, months, years, I tried to take this into account in the things I was going through,” he said. “It really helped. Just let that happen, don’t try to orchestrate it. Be a participant, but don’t take control of something that is not under your control. “

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