By Danielle Crean
Joshua Searle‑White demonstrates the frustration he feels when practicing meditation. After attempting to “OOOOMM” repeatedly in different tones and pitches, he explains why he’s sitting there cross‑legged, trying to find enlightenment. His girlfriend has given him an ultimatum: learn to communicate and get in touch with your feelings, or we break up.
So, Joshua reluctantly spends over $800 to attend a weekend workshop called “Intimacy and the Spirit,” which is very out of character for him. He is the last person to spend tons of money to join any group of new‑age spiritual practitioners. Upon arrival, Joshua meets his three‑day buddies who are all eccentric in their own ways. He is quick to judge the fellow attendees, and makes rude assumptions and observations based on brief encounters, without really trying to get to know them.
The guru of this workshop has everyone participate in various exercises, to learn to freely express themselves. Joshua is fast to dismiss most of these, as he doesn’t typically interact intimately with complete strangers. He is reluctant to step out of his comfort zone at this three‑day spiritual awakening workshop with what Joshua calls “crazy people.” Mr. Searle‑White embodies each member of the group in an exaggerated fashion because that’s how Joshua views each person, at first.
As the weekend continues, however, Joshua opens up to the possibility that the experience could be good for him. He calls it his Hail Mary, his final attempt to really look deep down and find himself. In one of the exercises, in which participants follow commands, he thrusts his pelvis back and forth, breaks into a dance, and finally “has fun.” Although the following day he feels somewhat disturbed by his own behavior, there is a glimpse of hope in Joshua, now that he is enjoying himself.
His final exercise is a trust fall into the arms of his new workshop acquaintances. He complains about this, and it seems to be the last straw for him. How could he trust these people to catch him? After arguing with the guru herself, Joshua gives in and takes the backwards plunge into the others’ arms. During a conversation in which each person shares their innermost desires, Joshua realizes that he had unfairly judged these people, and doesn’t really know them. He missed opportunities to really find out who they were, and to make friends. The show ends when everyone comes together for a group hug.
It’s your typical “don’t judge a book by its cover” story that got a tad predictable at moments. Although I found myself laughing for the majority of the performance, Mr. Searle‑White’s comedy sometimes seemed too broad. His lively and over‑the‑top personality did drive the story, and definitely kept me wondering what he was going to do next. The moral of the show was lovely, because we should get to know people past their quirks and step out of our comfort zones, as Joshua had.
“The Weekend Workshop”
Written and performed by: Joshua Searle-White
November 3 at 2PM
Photo: courtesy of the production
2019 United Solo Theater Festival
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
Follow us on Facebook
DANIELLE CREAN is an aspiring writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College with a degree in Communication Arts and Journalism. During her college career she was a writer and editor-in-chief for the Odyssey Online. She is also currently writing a novel based on her own personal experiences with mental health.