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The UNC Department of Communication Presents

The Heart Hero's Journey

Digital Program
Friday, Sept. 30 @ 7:30pm
Satuday, Oct. 1 @7:30pm

Written and Performed by Ariel Gratch

Directed by Joseph Megel

Co-Produced by Performance Studies - Department of Communication  & StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance 

Production Staff

Technical Director: Will Bosley

Graphics: Alayna Fennell

Web Design: Alayna Fennell

Marketing Assistant: Sariel Singletary

Box office: Sariel Singletary & Cindy Lin

Press & Marketing: Claire Walsh

Note from Joseph Megel, Artistic Director​

I welcome you to this, our fifteenth season of the Process Series. Each of the works in this season reckons with our collective histories and experiences and explores moments of potential reconciliation.  How can we come out the other side when we stare our world in the face? Heart Hero’s Journey starts us off.


We welcome back alumnus Ariel Gratch with this moving work, The Heart Hero’s Journey is Ariel Gratch’s very personal story inspired by Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Gratch explores the implications of raising a child with a rare heart condition. Within 72 hours, Gratch and his partner not only become parents, they become the parents of a child with CHD. When your world spins out of orbit, how do you cope? How do you move forward each day?

This performance is a gut-wrenching, rewarding and emotional journey that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. We welcome you and thank you for being here with us on this journey.​

Special Thank You's from the Writer

I want to thank the people who taught me the value of storytelling and have helped me hone my craft as a teller: John Gentile, Renee Alexander Craft, and Michael Bowman. I want to thank Marie Garlock for her insight into the process series and for helping me find ways to talk about complex medical issues in this space. And a special thank you to Joseph Megel who helped me create my first theatrical storytelling piece and continues to guide me in my art.

I want to thank the healthcare teams and friends who provided support and continue to aid us on this long and winding journey: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Pediatric Cardiology Unit, Lisa Bowen, Josh Cottom, Kids at Heart Atlanta, and Pediatric Cardiology Associates of Syracuse.

Finally, I want to thank my family. For continued support, from late-night hospital visits to helping out with home care, Beth and Steve Mintz, Reudor Gratch, Effi Frankel, and Barbara and Roy Michalik (who drove thousands of miles over the course of the last 7 years to help us out!). For being the most amazing partner I could hope for, who helped me develop this performance, managed so much of our son's care needs over the years, and constantly finds new ways to support our family, I thank my wife Lyndsay. And for sharing his stories with me and letting me share his stories with you, and who I will always dedicate this and every other performance to, I thank my son.

About the Writer


Ariel Gratch, Ph.D., a UNC alumnus, earned his M.A. in Performance Studies from the Department of Communication. Gratch hopes this performance will resonate with anyone dealing with complex medical conditions and that it will emphasize how individual stories impact wider communities. “While the story is about my son and our family’s experience, the nature of storytelling is that a good story can become a story that anyone can tell,” says Gratch. “My hope is that as I develop our version of the hero’s journey, others who are on similar journeys might get ideas about how to tell their own stories as well.”

Communication Studies

Avi Santo, Chair

StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance

Elisabeth Lewis Corley, Executive Producer

Check out our next performance:


Untitled Elegy Play  

By Andrea Stolowitz

October 12-13 at 7:30pm

At Swain Hall Black Box Theatre

An immersive theatre experience by playwright Andrea Stolowitz that explores two years of pandemic life using text from over forty interviews.

The Process Series is supported by the generosity of:

UNC College of Arts and Sciences

StreetSigns Center

The Institute of Arts and Humanities: Arts Everywhere

Carolina LatinX Center

The Asian American Center

Carolina Pride Alumni Network (CPAN)

Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies

Department of American Studies

Department of Art

Department of Communication

Department of Dramatic Art

Department of English and Comparative Literature

Department of German and Slavic Languages

Department of Music

The Process Series and StreetSigns welcome our newest sponsors:

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Advisory board

Renee Alexander, Vivienne Benesch, Tracy Bersley, William Brown, Elizabeth Engelhardt, Mary Floyd-Wilson, Amanda Graham, Joseph Jordan, John McGowan, David Navalinsky, Patricia Parker, Kathryn Wagner, Lee Weisert, Ken Weiss, Seth Kotch, David Garcia, Carol Magee, Sabine Gruffat, David Pier, Christopher Massenburg, Kathy Williams, Adam Versenyi, Kathy Williams, Jeff Spinner-Halev, Ken Weiss, Patricia Sawin, Marsha Collins

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