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Useful articles regarding youth and creativity

Spelunking about on the internet during last week’s Seattle snowstorm, I ran across two articles that may be of interest to those wishing to inform themselves (and others!) about the benefits of instilling and cultivating creativity in young people.

The first article, hosted on CNN.com, discusses creativity in general, and some of the reasons why we need to let kids be creative. You can find this article here.

The second article, on education.com, focuses more specifically on children’s theatre.  The author presents the case that “consistent participation greatly improves academic performance and significantly bumps up standardized test scores. Students who make time for the arts are also more involved in community service, and less likely to drop out of school.” You can read more about the importance of children’s theatre here.

Also, another reminder – I am still seeking workshop facilitators in the following arenas:

- Theater
- Art
- Music
- Photography
- Film
- Writing

If you or anyone you know would be into this, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks much.

- Colleen

 

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Would you or someone you know like to contribute?

Volunteers needed!

 

Hi everyone!

I am currently on the prowl for folks in the Seattle arts community who would be qualified and interested in facilitating a workshop for young people (ages 14 – 18) in the following arenas:
Theatre
Writing (poetry, prose, biographical, fiction, etc.)
Photography
Art
Film
Song
- and any other creative mediums you can think of!

 

In my previous blog post, I described the rather lengthy inception of the project I am working on. Here is the abbreviated version: This yet-to-be-named project will entail hosting a series of workshops for youth on creative storytelling.

Everyone has a story to tell. The voices of young people are severely underrepresented in the world today. I am facilitating a 15-20 week, 3-tiered process in which young people will learn to:

1) Define the story that they want to tell / How and why they want to tell it

2) Become versed in a variety of creative methods that will help them present what they want to say to the public. These methods include but are not limited to: theatre, art, music, writing, film, photography, etc.

3) Polish, rehearse, and eventually present their stories as a group for an audience with the purpose of making their voices heard and making a difference in their community

I am currently in the beginning stages of writing the curriculum for the program, collecting resources, and reaching out to people in the community who may be interested in hosting workshops in their areas of expertise. I would love it if you or somebody that you know might be interested, when the timeline is solidified, in bringing some of your knowledge to the youth in this program? At this juncture I imagine it would be a one-time workshop, with a time slot of whatever you are comfortable with, maximum 2.5 hours. The topics would be rudimentary / for beginners – the reasons why your artistic medium might make a good outlet for storytelling, examples of good, expressive storytelling in your chosen forum, etc. and of course whatever you feel are the most important things for youth (ages 14 – 18), who assumedly have never been exposed to your craft, to know.

I would be happy to talk more with you about this if you have the time and interest. Send me an e-mail at Colleen@BrownPaperTickets.com, or feel free to call me at 1.800.838.3006 ext. 7001.

I hope that the holidays are treating you all fabulously. Best wishes for a safe and happy new year!

Warmly,

Colleen

 

Greetings, salutations…

Hello! I am the Theater/Education Doer. I am presently working on a new project that will allow young people to tell their personal stories on the stage via art, poetry/prose, song, physical enactment, etc. Here is the extended version of my mission:

When I was a teenager I was involved in the drama program at my high school. There was a class that I particularly enjoyed called Children’s Theatre. During this class, the high school kids would walk over to the local elementary school and consult the librarian regarding which books were the most popular that year. There would always be some old classics (If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, Where The Wild Things Are), but there would often be newer stories as well (The Stinky Cheese Man, Snot Stew). We would check these books out from the library and bring them back to the theatre with us, where we would then work on transcribing the stories into one-act plays for the stage. After reading through the scripts as a class, we would vote on which stories we wanted to perform, and then (after several rehearsals) we would spend a day or two traveling and performing for various local elementary schools. The kids loved seeing their favorite stories on stage and we were “drama geeks,” happy to perform for any audience (and the fact that we were released from school for the day on a field trip didn’t suck, either). Our end-of-year project consisted of our class pairing up with a class of 3rd graders, two 3rd graders per drama student. Here we had the opportunity to show the kids how to do what we had done – we helped them pick a story, re-write it for the stage, and directed them as they assumed their very first roles as actors. This was one of our favorite projects to work on, the kids would always remember us each year, and the parents loved it.

Fast forward to the present-day. I have been working with a local homeless and foster youth advocacy group through my Doer-isms at Brown Paper Tickets. Initially, I began helping them distribute their monthly newsletter. A few months after I began volunteering with them, I attended their (amazing) 10th Anniversary benefit luncheon at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Seattle. The youth who presented their stories on the stage that afternoon – in a room filled with hundreds of state legislators and supporting organizations – were incredible. What struck me the most was the strength, bravery and willingness to share that these young people brought with them to the event. Standing before us were a group of youth who have individually endured unspeakable difficulties in their lives, marginalized and nearly silenced by a complicated and very flawed system. Their spirits unwavering, they have chosen to speak out about the injustices in the world around them, working for positive change and educating other young people in similar situations who may not be aware of their own rights.

It is no secret that the voices of youth tend to be disregarded in our society. Young people are often socially lumped into the category of “teenager,” a word in this context usually connoting naivety, immaturity, and irresponsibility. Sometimes the word “dangerous” can even be tacked on to the stereotype. Immersed in what can sadly feel is a disinterested culture, it seems as though there are not adequate avenues for youth to tell their stories to a public who will listen, care, and try to understand what it means to be a minor. For example, I would have had no way of knowing the stories that the Mockingbird youth had to tell had I not been in the right place at the right time to hear them at that luncheon – and I volunteer with them regularly. This is through no fault of the organization – it simply is not the focus while I am there to discuss our personal lives; we are there for the newspaper distribution.

Backing up for a moment: While I was working toward my BA, I became involved with the college literary magazine. This was a fun workshop-esque class based on publishing a bi-annual literary journal, punctuating each publication with a release party involving stage performances and various readings. Remembering these performances, my initial thought after attending the recent luncheon had been to contact the editor of the magazine and ask him if he would be willing to run a contest culminating in the opportunity for some of the Mockingbird newspaper staff to have a creative piece or two published in this nationally distributed, university sponsored magazine. He graciously agreed, taking the idea a step further (as he is wont to do), bringing up thoughts on the stage, self-publishing, etc.

Next I met with Kelly, the manager of the Doers at Brown Paper Tickets. We also discussed the topics of stage and self-publishing, and she reminded me of something so blatantly obvious that I had never even considered it: I have a plethora of resources available to me through the company. Printed materials, venues, a budget, marketing, all things theatre, etc. I emerged from this meeting feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities and deeply, deeply inspired.

Finally I met with another youth advocate in the community, and apropos of nothing – I hadn’t brought it up at all – he suggested collaborating on an event involving stage performances. Alright, Universe! Thank you for the clue-x-4, the stage it shall be! This person also offered to put me in touch with representatives from an astounding amount of additional youth-centric organizations, expanding my pool of participants across a wider demographic of young people.

There have been many meetings in the meantime with various individuals, but that is the basic story of how the egg of this project was laid.

(Seattle isn’t the only city with projects like this! Here is video footage of a similar theatre group in Washington DC, working with Latino youth.)

Everybody has a story to offer, an experience to share, an allegory to tell. In this series of interactive seminars and workshops, we will delve into the creative depths to bring our stories into the spotlight. Express yourself through written word, art, dramatic enactment, song, or just about any other artistic measure you can think of. Don’t know how to do it? We will teach you. Don’t think you can learn? We will prove you wrong. Your stories will be woven together to create an 80 minute performance piece, and each accepted narrative will be published in nationally distributed KNOCK literary magazine.

Revenue generated from ticket sales will go directly to the creation of a self-published literary magazine – written by the youth, for youth.

Over the past few weeks I have been working on time lines, contact lists, finalizing my proposal, etc. Obviously there will be a lot to learn along the way, but that’s half of the fun!

So, fingers crossed. Here we go…

*thumbs up*

- Colleen

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Theatre/Education

 

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