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Cinema Series Interview: "Cabaret" - Mid-Atlantic Group Psychotherapy Society (MAGPS)

Cinema Series Interview: “Cabaret”

Judy Tyson interviews Liz Marsh on presenting “Cabaret” for the MAGPS Cinema Series December 9, 2017 movie.


CINEMA SERIES INTERVIEW Judy Tyson and Liz Marsh    
JUDY: Liz, I’d like to begin by asking you to say a bit about your choice to present a film for the Cinema Series.
LIZ:   I co-chair the MAGPS membership committee. At a meeting we were discussing what movies could stimulate a discussion regarding the MAGPS mission statement for this year.  I suggested Cabaret. I want to support MAGPS and its mission so I volunteered to present the film.
JUDY: Yes. Over the years I’ve seen Mid-Atlantic “grow” with the times. I am so pleased that we have this commitment. The first film in the Cinema Series, The Great Dictator, was a success in that regard.
LIZ:   Our Mission statement reflects MAGPS’ commitment as an organization to address the intense, conflictual political climate. The Board’s intention is to develop professional activities that will constructively respond to its impact on ourselves and our clients.
We have been developing plans to a-tune our future Conferences and other offerings to do that. We want our MAGPS activities to raise our awareness as to how the political climate affects us both personally and professionally. As clinicians we have a professional obligation to explore how this climate of divisiveness challenges us personally and as clinicians. The Board wants to promote activities that help us as group psychotherapists to attend to the pressures and tensions of the political climate.
JUDY: Liz, would you tell us briefly how MAGPS’s mission has personal meaning for you?
LIZ: I am disheartened by the stance our government and our world seems to be taking towards those who are different or need support. I am excited to be a part of MAGPS at a time when our understanding as clinicians of group dynamics may be able to make a difference; even if the difference is only with our clients and ourselves. I feel personally that we have a duty to be active in the conversation. Perhaps those we touch may respond more inclusively and compassionately to those needing our support.
JUDY:  It seems to me that when people are scared or unable to make sense of a situation, a default perspective can be to  blame the “other,” or stand on the sidelines as a bystander, perhaps  in a state of fear of the “other” or feeling overwhelmed.
LIZ: As therapists we are aware of a pervasive undercurrent of “othering,” in our society. We see it in our groups and have noticed “othering” has prevailed in our society’s history. But we have seldom seen it so publically reinforced as we have since the 2016 presidential election cycle began.
JUDY: In your opinion why is Cabaret a good fit for this Cinema Series season?
LIZ: Cabaret is an interesting choice because it takes place at a tipping point in history. The film, Cabaret, is a musical based on a story by Christopher Isherwood. Isherwood’s autobiographical story takes place in Berlin in the 1930’s, the critical years when the Nazis were coming into power. The musical is about a community of “others.” We see how they choose to respond to a rising threat. This is a threat that may or may not impact them directly.
JUDY: What will be your focus that evening?
LIZ: My intention is to talk about that historical political situation and lead a discussion about choosing to be a bystander, a witness, rather than, when we see things amiss in our communities, choosing to get involved. 
JUDY: In Cabaret Bob Fosse, the director, shows us what happens when insidious, amoral, dark political forces are not addressed and people ignore them or behave as “bystanders.”
What can our membership do to support MAGPS’ mission to explore the tough issues we now face as citizens and that Cabaret dramatically illustrates?
LIZ: My personal comment, “Call your representatives every day!”
In regards what an MAGPS member do?  Our organization is always looking for volunteers to do things. For example, opportunities to present a film at a Cinema Series; join a conference committee; contact a Board member to say you want to help and learn what you can do. The Board wants to focus our upcoming conference on topics that address the divides in our communities and would love members’ ideas, feedback, and help with tasks to make it happen.
JUDY: Yes, early on, when joining MAGPS (more years ago than I can remember) I found that all I had to do was to “show up” and get involved. Mid-Atlantic has no “glass ceiling” to stop anyone from participating. Over the years I  have found MAGPS to consistently welcome new members. And all members are encouraged to find ways to participate. The payoff has been that our organization has become a professional community that nurtures our members’ professional as well as personal growth. 
LIZ: I believe one of the most important things we can do is to dialog with people that are different from us. Events like the Cinema Series provide a platform for dialoging. The opportunity to is important now more than ever. Come and put your two cents in!
JUDY:  In my opinion, your choice of Cabaret is spot on.  Most of the scenes are of people extremely happy, with little to no evidence suggesting there is much to be happy about. The signs that their lives will be soon be impacted by a Nazi world view are ignored.  With the dancing, singing, and smiling, there is a sinister undertone. Something is amiss, to use your words, and nobody seems to notice. Or, if they do notice, they don’t seem to know enough to care.
Thank you, Liz, for giving us your thoughts and thank you, in advance, for presenting Cabaret and what I am sure will be an enlightening group discussion. I’m looking forward to viewing Cabaret with our members and their guests.
For those who will be coming for the first time, the evening begins with visiting and a delicious dinner. This is an opportunity to meet those you know, interesting people you may not have yet met, and those who might be looking forward to an opportunity to get to know you! We’ll watch a great film, and afterward Liz will help us have a lively discussion. Of course the discussion will be accompanied with dessert.
                           CINEMA SERIES presents CABARET
         Hosts:  Lorraine and Dan Wodiska            Dinner and visiting: 5:30
                     6014 28th St., North                        Film viewing:  6:15
                     Arlington, VA 22207                       Discussion & Dessert
                               A $10 contribution to cost of the food is requested
Please RSVP here if interested in attending.
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