Changing Lives: Hard at Work!


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It’s been two months since our family meeting, when we sat together poring over calendars, filling out endless consent forms, and played ensemble games with our families. There was giggling, there was uncertainty, and there was a tiny spark – which has continued to grow over our time together.

We started our journey as an ensemble by examining our own identities to understand our relationships to both privilege and oppression. Then, we explored our relationship to our gender and the ways in which we are gendered from birth until adulthood:

It’s a boy! Play with your trucks. You are so strong and brave. Boys don’t cry. Be a man!

It’s a girl! Play with your dolls. Always act like a lady. Don’t forget to wear your make-up!

The ensemble played with the idea of socialization by creating various machines which “make” males and females – the family machine, the media machine, and the friends/peers machine and considered how they would “create” us…

You can’t leave the house dressed like that!

Man up!

You’re so pretty.

Did you get with her?

To investigate race, we thought about what white privilege means and how it plays out in the world. We looked to our systems to understand how segregated proms and the situation in Ferguson are still happening in our world. To try to understand the various viewpoints that create spaces for racism to exist, we wrote scenes between the various stakeholders involved in this incidence of a segregated prom: http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/04/living/integrated-prom-wilcox-county-georgia/

After the introduction to social justice, we began thinking about our theme for this year’s show: break-ups. We’re wondering:

What things or people do we break up with? How do we decide to break up? What are the signs that a relationship isn’t working? How do you break up with someone respectfully, while also taking care of yourself?

To jump into our theme, we began with the idea of healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors. Randy Randolph from SafePlace taught us about various communication styles in relationships and encouraged us to think about the relationship behavior stoplight, where some behaviors are green: “Yes, good! On we go!,” some are yellow: “Hmm. Maybe I’ll have to keep an eye on that.” And some are red: “No, absolutely not. Time to break it off.”

Another guest artist and activist from Creative Action, Sidney Monroe, visited us to teach a workshop that helped us consider the impact and power of bodies in space. We considered how gender, race, and environment color the way we read and react to everyday situations as we created scenarios using open scenes (or content-less, neutral scenes).

Then we thought about friendships and how they come to an end.

What do we let get in our way? Boys, girls, relationships, jealousy.

Why do we drift apart? Changing interests, popularity, losing touch.

How do we let go? A big blow out, subtle snubbing, hurtful words and anger.

To understand where we get messages about relationships, we looked to seemingly innocent childhood stories – fairytales. We realized there were far more negative messages than positive ones:

Relationships should be based on physical gratification, women are prized objects to be won and awarded, you must be in a (hetero) relationship to be happy, your self worth is dependent on your looks and your ability to find and keep a partner.

Then, we flipped the script and imagined what would happen if Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red, and Belle had just heeded those warning signs and broke that relationship off…

Stop proposing to me – I don’t want to get married yet! We’re done.

It’s not okay that you’re constantly watching me – it’s not working.

I don’t want to make you dinner, I’m reading my book… I don’t think we want the same things.

Last week we considered how we perpetuate real life fairytales through our sugar coated posts on social media – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, among others. We wondered what lies beneath the perfect, smiling couples we see on the internet – what are they hiding? Is there any secret trouble in paradise? We created digital photography and invented Instagram newsfeeds for our couples, then wrote scenes that told the story of their relationships.

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And now we’re here! We are hard at work devising and discovering our script – armed with our hard won knowledge of social justice, our increased self-awareness, and our artist’s tool box – ready to make CHANGE!

 

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