Ep.68 – The ‘Art’ of Cult Recovery: Music, Theatre, & Trauma-Informed Anti-Cult Activism | Lennox & Teruyo

Teruyo & Lennox are theatre artists in cult recovery, currently hard at work on a musical inspired by their personal experiences in a shamanic cult. They explore what it’s like to break away from high-demand influence, while offering a socio-political deconstruction of the colonial headspace that informs it. Music from the play’s soundtrack is woven throughout this powerful conversation, which touches upon a whole helluva lot in an hour. Teruyo & Lennox describe how crafting a musical – both in storyline and soundtrack – enables them to give greater voice and vehicle to the trauma they’ve experienced. Teruyo shares: how their upbringing and mixed-racial identity primed them to ‘cult hop’ and spend sixteen years in devotion to their last cult; how the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ in January 2022 was the final straw that inspired them break free; and how their own internalized white supremacy kept them ‘in’ the cult and separate-from their Japanese heritage for most of their life. Lennox opens up about their own early in life conditioning, Baptist summer camps, and time spent in a coercive and controlling relationship prior to joining the shamanic cult the musical is based on. They invite us to challenge our collective hyper-fixation on narcissistic cult leaders, turning our attention instead toward understanding why it is that the ‘spells’ cultic leaders cast over us work so damn well. Music brings dimension to this conversation, as we dive even deeper into what it might actually mean to decolonize the work of cult recovery. How are our cult experiences microcosms of systemic oppression? And why is anti-colonial, anti-racism work so essential and relevant to holistic cult recovery? Teruyo & Lennox apply their neurodivergent artistry to these questions, and it results in what is perhaps this pod’s most unique and sound-rich conversation to date.

Teruyo (they/them) is a racialized queer, neurodiverse, non-binary theatre artist, anti-oppression activist and academic. Teruyo’s encounter with cults and the aftermath of manipulative mind games have fueled their drive to delve into healing and reclaiming identity through anti-colonial and anti-racist cult recovery. Through their academic research and the creation and production of original plays and musical theatre, they aspire to amplify the marginalized voices of the global majority, foster socio-political change, and cultivate trauma-informed artistry.

Lennox (they/them) is a neurodiverse, non-binary, queer theatre artist. They’ve endured the clutches of multiple cults, ranging from religious and spiritual to white supremacy. Ditching society’s expectations and cultural boundaries, they’ve fully embraced their love for writing musicals, giving toxic masculinity the finger. Their creative outlet? Crafting badass socio-political musical stories that resonate with their true calling. They’re rewriting the rules and reclaiming their rightful place behind the instruments.

Guest Vocalists: Aleyah Erin Lennon & Carter Hickey

September 27, 2023

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