"If you are really serious about changing lives through the arts, the Life Stories Institute is the choice you must and should make."
2014 Life Stories Institute participant

Life Stories Institute


A four-day intensive learning experience providing educators, social service providers, theatre artists, and others the tools they need to share the transformative power of the dramatic arts with their communities.

The Life Stories Institute will return in October 2015.

Check back soon for final 2015 dates and additional information. Please email deb@theatrelab.org if you’d like to speak to someone about the program.

The inaugural Life Stories Institute, held in October of 2014, was a resounding success. Below is a small sample of those in attendance last year describing their experience.


Overall thoughts about the Institute

"Master teachers from a most distinguished lineage are present in the room -- making available a brilliant synthesis of decades of trial, error and triumph in the field of sharing theatre-making with marginalized populations. The atmosphere of the four days: intense, fun, heart-opening, challenging, awe-inspiring, humbling and surprising."

"It was difficult to believe that it was a first run. So carefully planned, so beautiful executed. I know that, no matter what, my own life story is forever changed for the better. I feel expanded and enlivened and engaged in a way I did not before I began this Institute."

On the instructors

"The dedication of all the instructors is clear. They were not only impressive teachers, they clearly are inspired by their work and their students. Their respect for the populations they serve is obvious. It was infectious."

"The instructors were all excellent, and each one was different, bringing a different perspective and skill set to share."


On the panel discussions

"All of the panel discussions were so amazing -- may have changed my life. It at least solidified my feeling that I was doing the right work."

"Still processing the wealth of knowledge and experience from these panels -- will return to my notes and memories from each session many times as I go further with this work. So, all I can say is: rating these experiences seems impossible -- they were beyond valuable."

On Institute Directors Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro

"Deb and Buzz were able to put a framework around each day. Also, they were able to provide a continuity that connected all the wonderful work of the various instructors. Deb and Buzz gave us wings to go out there and fly into our dreams."

"They work well together, they are very generous in sharing their experiences and they give instruction and feedback in the most respectful constructive way. their guidance and leadership is selfless, expert, kind, funny, elegant and efficient."

On the model teaching component:

"It was invaluable! The opportunity to put into practice what I had observed and learned and what I hope to do was empowering. In addition, I got new ideas from how my peers approached the segment."

"It was perhaps the best part of a terrific four days. It was interesting and fun and gave us a real taste of what being a Life Stories instructor is like. I liked the amount of individual attention we each got, and I like the fact that we were able to work with both Buzz and Deb."

On the Institute materials:

"The toolkit is the one thing that sets this training apart from all others. Knowing that the information is captured for us, gave us freedom to focus on the present moment. Have something structured to rely on, give me confidence to go forth and do the work."

"The toolkit is clear, concise but comprehensive, and completely necessary when packing so much material into 4 days. As I said above, I tended to give more attention to material I would use in my specific project and model teaching, but without the toolkit I would have felt overwhelmed. It's always helpful to have text when reviewing my notes,"

What would you say to someone thinking of enrolling in the Institute?:

"Do it. Do it now. Invest the time. Learn to use your art to empower others, as it has empowered you. Never let anyone tell you that art cannot change lives, because mine is forever changed, yet again, thanks to the Life Stories Institute."

"You'll be a better facilitator for it. You'll improve ideas you already had, scrap ones you previously clung to, and incorporate new lessons earned over four days of immersive practice."