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Cheyenne native uses acting to help prison inmates express themselves

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 4:51 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Dominic Syracuse has been acting since he was a child, starting in Cheyenne theaters when he was eight years old. This passion led him to pursuing a career in the arts, which took him to the Stella Adler institute for acting. It was there that his life would change.

Dominic Syracuse said, “When I was in my master program, there was something that they call the outreach program where they went into to prisons and started teaching acting to inmates. Immediately, I was like ‘I have to do this. I have to.’ This is blending my world, you know?”

When the opportunity to join the program came, he took it. It only took one visit for Dominic to fall in love with the concept.

“So I went in to maximum security prison, and I didn’t know what to expect. I thought we were gonna offer some kind of acting thing as kind of a break from these people routines. What I realized was, it was so much more than that.”

Dominic would spend the next five years of his life working inside prisons, bringing new people happiness each day.

He’d even become an anger management teacher with the school’s inside of prisons, earning his certification to do so. His class used the same techniques as he used in the outreach program, managing to help inmates reach a better place emotionally through expression. The program expanded to rehab facilities and homeless shelters, and it was at a youth shelter in Venice beach that would lead to the next chapter of his career, and the creation of the Cognitive Behavioral Theater.

“The CEO of this company goes ‘I have to do a speech in front of a bunch of potential investors that could bring in millions of dollars into this program. I’m terrified, can you privately coach me?’”

Now, Dominic also helps businessmen and women, nurses, and other high-pressure jobs by incorporating public speaking, quick-thinking, and ways to keep calm under pressure.

“What acting really teaches you how to do, is it teaches you how to express yourself and your ideas confidently. In order to do that, you have to overcome all of the fear and anxiety that’s stopping you from doing that in the first place. "

For more information on the Cognitive Behavioral Theater, visit their website.

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