Lantern Theater Company: Geneviève Perrier and Charlie DelMarcelle in A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES (2014); Kittson O'Neill, Maxwell Eddy, and Alex Boyle in ARCADIA (2014); Damon Bonetti, Daniel Fredrick, and Dave Johnson in THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (2015); and Kirk Wendell Brown and Peter DeLaurier in THE TRAIN DRIVER (2014). Photos by Mark Garvin.
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2017/18 season
Lantern Theater Company's Illumination Education Program
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Participant Reactions
"I think participation in this theater program helped me to feel a little less like a medical student, and a little more like a human being again. And that's a very good thing."

"I thought this program embraced the world of medicine with humor, reflection, and empathy. It showed me that fellow medical students and physicians struggle with common issues that our training fails to teach, and that we have to simply learn by experience. A definite highlight of my first year."

"I feel very grateful to have been able to be a part of this class. It opened my eyes to a new way to think about things while also allowing me to have fun and relax in a life that otherwise can be very stressful."

"I think the process of writing and acting helped me process a lot of the hurt and pain I see every day in the hospital. It also helped me feel good about the work I do and gave me permission to simply be me."
Illumination Education Program

The Empathy Project

Lantern Theater Company is partnering with the Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC) of Thomas Jefferson University to create an introduction to drama, acting, and playwriting for students of health professions, residents, and Jefferson faculty.

Conceived by Salvatore Mangione, M.D., pulmonologist and director of physical diagnosis-clinical skills at SKMC, and the Lantern's artistic director, Charles McMahon, the goal of this program is for the students to develop skills, like empathy and tolerance for ambiguity, which will assist them in their future careers and help prevent burnout. According to McMahon: "The Lantern has long held the belief that theater should enrich the life of its community by providing people with unique experiences and uncommon perspectives that help us to create greater context and meaning in our lives. This collaboration with Thomas Jefferson University has the potential to open up new ways our respective fields can enrich each other."

The drama program, funded by The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and IMAP, officially kicked off in November 2014 and is part of a larger humanities curriculum now required for first-year medical students at SKMC. Dr. Mangione was particularly interested in theater as a tool to foster empathy. "Theater is not entertainment," Dr. Mangione said. "The Greeks created drama to be catharsis by proxy. It is a tool to understand the human condition."

Lantern teaching artists M. Craig Getting (Lantern's education director) and Kittson O'Neill (actress and artistic associate at InterAct Theatre Company) lead approximately 30 students and faculty in an annual 15-week workshop exploring a variety of acting and playwriting techniques. The program culminates with a live presentation, performed by an ensemble of Lantern artists and program participants for an audience of students, staff, and community members, including "The Truth Beneath: Five Stories You Haven't Heard From Your Provider" in 2016 and "Funny, Sad, True and Mad: A Theatrical Exploration of the Medical Life" in 2015.

Phase Three of The Empathy Project has just begun. Stay tuned for more information and updates on the program!

More Information

  • From Philly Voice
    Operating Theater: When doctors do drama - The Empathy Project offers turns med students into playwrights.  read

  • From WHYY's The Pulse
    Think about a time when you had a bad interaction with a doctor. Maybe they seemed cold, distracted, not interested in what you had to say. Does that make them a jerk? Maybe, but consider that burnout is a big problem in medicine, as doctors repeatedly are confronted by the most bleak of human conditions. An experiment is underway at a Philadelphia medical school to inoculate students against this loss of empathy with the help of theater. Yep, theater. Elana Gordon explains.  listen

  • From the @Jeff Blog
    All the World's a Stage, Even the Med School Classroom.  read

  • Questions? Please contact M. Craig Getting, Education Director, at cgetting@lanterntheater.org or 215.829.9002 x104.

Jefferson group participants, May 2015
Salvatore Mangione, M.D. (second row, far left) pictured with Empathy Project participants (May 2015)

Pictured (above left): Actors Bi Jean Ngo, Kirk Wendell Brown, and Trevor William Fayle work with participants in the Lantern/SKMC partnership (May 2015). Photo: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
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Header Photo: Geneviève Perrier and Charlie DelMarcelle in A Child's Christmas in Wales (2014); Kittson O'Neill, Maxwell Eddy, and Alex Boyle in Arcadia (2014); Damon Bonetti, Daniel Fredrick, and Dave Johnson in The Hound of the Baskervilles (2015); and Kirk Wendell Brown and Peter DeLaurier in The Train Driver (2014). Photos by Mark Garvin.

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