Stephen Cole was the first facilitator to work with PPTG. A retired theatre professor from Cornell who worked with many Hollywood actors and taught at the IM School of Healing Arts, he began working with PPTG in October of 2009. Cole’s emphasis was on transformative characterology as an experienced act. At the request of the men of PPTG, this work focused on the healing process of transformative experience. The work is rooted in bioenergetic categories of psychological defenses. This allowed the men to examine their own defenses while attempting to inhabit these defense systems. This work is equally applicable to the redemptive goals of the men of PPTG as well as to actor training.
After some months Cole invited Paula Murray Cole, a theatre professor at Ithaca College, to join as a facilitator to expand the modalities of expression available to the members of the group. Ms. Cole led workshops in Laban training, a well-known system of movement dynamics, which explores the psychological dimensions of movement in space and time. From Laban, Ms. Cole led the group in explorations of psychological emotions through training in rasaboxes– a psychophysical technique that trains actors and others to work with the body-mind imagination, emotional sensation and its physical expression.
In an effort to bring all the work forward into a performance mode, Cole discussed the PPTG group with Bruce Levitt, theatre professor, professional director and former chair of the Theater Department at Cornell University who specializes in Shakespeare and Solo Performance. Levitt joined the workshop in October of 2010 and led the members of PPTG in the creation of autobiographical performance pieces that called upon their own experiences as well as the techniques practiced from October 2009.
The solo performance work resulted in the creation of a script entitled Inside/Out, which was performed at Auburn Correctional Facility in April of 2011. Participants included Juliana Kleist-Mendez and Jeremy Flynn, two students from Cornell, who collaborated in the creation of the piece and joined the men of PPTG in performance. Some seventy people from outside the facility attended the performance. Excerpts from Inside/Out were published in the Fall 2011 and Winter/Spring 2012 editions of Aaduna Press (www.aaduna.org). This performance was followed in June of 2012 with the performance of Maximum Will, which combined soliloquys from Shakespeare with original reflective writings by the men of PPTG. Judy Levitt and Danielle Frimer joined David, Shane, Michael, along with Efraim Diaz and Kenneth Brown in that performance.
After the 2012 Performance of Maximum Will, the group admitted new “second generation” members Demetrius “Meat” Molina, Nathan Powell, and Leroy Lebron Taylor. After a period of training with PPTG members began preparation for what became the performance of An Indeterminate Life, performed in May, 2014, which showcased the work of the founding members still residing at Auburn, Michael Rhynes and David Bendezu, along with Leroy, Meat, and Nate. Sandra Oyeneyin, Blaize Hall, Judy Levitt and Nick Fesette joined them in performance.
During this period, too, Stephen Cole and Paula Murray Cole left as facilitators of the group. Levitt had earlier recruited Alison Van Dyke and Judy Levitt to join PPTG. Nick Fesette and Christopher Seeds also became part of the facilitating corps, and all assisted with An Indeterminate Life. Mariana Amorim is the most recent addition to those working with PPTG.