Anonymous

The Girl Project workshops are, to some degree, sacred.  We start the first hour establishing our “closed container” in which we have a set of morals we created and established in order to participate in this project as our highest selves.  We will work toward what the highest self is as the workshops evolve, but from our beginnings we challenge ourselves to let go of pettiness including day to day negative energy that can culminate when we are rushed or over-worked and wish we could have stayed in bed a moment longer.

It’s not hard to let go of such things once we are in the room and we have the opportunity to be with one of our long line of amazing female teaching artists.

However, my motivation for our workshop this past Saturday was one I couldn’t anticipate and certainly didn’t expect so early in our process.

We have a basket that sits in the room with us.  This basket serves as an anonymous place for anyone to drop a question, concern or idea they would like to be discussed. These questions, concerns or ideas will be discussed openly, without judgment, at the next workshop.

The very first piece of paper Vanessa, Christy and I unfolded after our very first workshop with these amazing young women had one word written on it – GRIEF.

My mind went on overdrive: “who put this in here”, “what kind of grief are they struggling with”,  “how do we address such a complicated issue without any details” and on and on.  My heart began to hurt that we had to wait four weeks to address such an issue that shouldn’t have to wait four weeks.

But it had to wait the long four weeks till we met, and after some struggle with how to broach such a topic and some research into not only grief, but teenage grief (yes there is a difference), we sat in a circle and I tried to be as straight forward as possible.  Here are the things we discussed…

  1. Grief is very personal and individual.  No two people will experience grief the exact same way.  That is why grief is so complicated.
  2. What is grief?  A keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
  3. Teenagers experience grief differently than adults.  Although we see teenagers as young adults, their coping abilities are very different than that of an adult and therefore have to be treated gently and thoughtfully.  That is why it might feel as though you are alone in your grief as a teenager.
  4. Talking about grief is VERY difficult for teenagers.  Their friends, if they haven’t experienced feelings of this depth, might avoid the topic or have a hard time empathizing.  Adults, on the other hand, try to “fix” the problem.  Most of the time a teenager needs someone to simply listen.  Listen. Hear their feelings and that is all.
  5. We discussed negative ways of dealing with grief.  Drawing negative attention to yourself or harming yourself rather than talking about your feelings.  We discussed the well intended desire to put tons of positive energy out when you are feeling grief so everyone will think you are doing fine. We also discussed the happy medium of putting your feelings out there to someone you know will hear you and listen to the best of their ability.

It took those few simple yet ever important details to realize that the best thing I can do in this closed container is LISTEN.  It seems so simple.  But whether you are a teenager or an adult, all any human can hope for when they are experiencing grief is that someone will be there to LISTEN when they are ready to talk.

I have had grief in my life, very personal grief.  I would guess that most people my age have experienced it on some level.  I do internalize it.  I don’t like to cry in front of people.  I don’t like to be held or touched or coddled when I am hurting.  I like to be alone, behind a closed door and I cannot talk until I am ready…if ever.  As an actress I am the opposite, I share pain well.  When I am acting I am feeling things not only for myself but also for the audience.  You carry their hearts in your heart and hope they can live in your experience.  It is my duty to let them feel my heart break.  I can share my grief and live my grief best through my art.

I am learning with these girls.  We are all learning with this project.  Every workshop we will be reminded why this type of work is not only important but VITAL.

Our assignment for the month of November is …

  1. Make a collage of grief.  Literal – Abstract – a thousand pictures collaged together of a loved one you have lost – 100 shades of red collaged together.  Collage grief.
  2. Personify grief.  With as many detailed descriptions as possible, personify grief.

I look forward to hearing their personifications and seeing their collages.

In the basket at the end of the second class there were several anonymous topics.

One piece of paper read “thank you for talking about grief.”

-Ellie Clark

We are honored to introduce our first teaching artist!  She is the first in a long line of accomplished women who has agreed to be involved with this project.  We couldn’t be more excited to have her in the room with us.   

Affrilachian Poet and Cave Canem Fellow, Bianca Spriggs, is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky. Currently a doctoral student at the University of Kentucky, she holds degrees from Transylvania University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Named as one of th

e Top 30 Performance Poets by TheRoot.com, Bianca is the recipient of a 2013 Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry, multiple Artist Enrichment and Arts Meets Activism grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and a Pushcart Prize Nominee. In partnership with the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, she is the creator of “The SwallowTale Project” a traveling creative writing workshop designed for incarcerated women, and the creator and Artistic Director of the Gypsy Poetry Slam featured annually at the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. 

Pushcart Prize winner and National Book Award Finalist, Patricia Smith, calls Bianca’s work, “an aggressive signature that is deftly crafted, insightful and often achingly lyrical.” Heralded as “the new standard bearer for the Affrilachian Poets” by founding member, Frank X Walker, Bianca Spriggs is the author of Kaffir Lily (Wind Publications), How Swallowtails Become Dragons (Accents Publishing), and her work may also be found in the anthologies, New Growth: Recent Kentucky Writings, America! What’s My Name? and the journals, Union Station Magazine, Tidal Basin Review, Muzzle, Caduceus, Alehouse, Reverie, Appalachian Heritage Magazine, and others. Bianca has served on the editorial board for ninepatch, TORCH: poetry, prose, and short stories by African American Women, and is currently the Managing Editor for pluck! The Affrilachian Journal of Art and Culture.

The girls have been cast and are about to be introduced to the public. What an inspiring group of girls they are. Diverse in their experiences and life but alike in their passion, joy, and struggles. Each girl is an artist in their own right and willing to share their thoughts feelings and stories as they take this year long journey together to create this original work.

This project has been a dream of mine for many years and I was thrilled to discover that co-director and dear friend Ellie Clark shared in this vision. Having artist and advocate Christy Burch seek us out to assist in the project has become a blessing.  In addition to the three of us, these girls are about to have the privelage to work alongside empowered female artist, mentors, and supporters. In the past few months Ellie and I have met some amazing women and men who want to be a part of this important project in various ways from our Guest Artist to our Advisory Committee as well as our Parent Volunteers.

We hope that you will come along with us on this year long creative process. There will be several updates each month introducing new artist, advocates, and supporters of The Girl Project. We encourage you to be one of them!

-Vanessa Becker

AUDITIONS FOR THE GIRL PROJECT

We are thrilled to announce auditions for The Girl Project!  The Girl Project is looking for a diverse group of 15-20 girls, grades 9-12, interested in exploring what it means to be female in America today.  We will explore female representation in the media, gender identity, health, the power of words, the pressure we put on ourselves and others and many other themes that will inspire an original piece that will be performed Labor Day weekend of 2013.

No theatre experience is required but we will be workshopping in movement, mask, voice, creative writing, solo and ensemble performance and a number of other theatre related activities.  All the audition information is below.  Please contact vbecker@mykct.org for questions regarding participation in the project.

AUDITIONS

 SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 2012, 1-4PM AT THE DOWNTOWN ARTS CENTER, 141 EAST MAIN STREET LEXINGTON KY.  AUDITIONS WILL CONSIST OF GROUP EXERCISES AND INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEWS.  PLEASE WEAR CLOTHES YOU CAN MOVE IN!

 WORKSHOPS

GIRL PROJECT WORKSHOPS IN WRITING, MOVEMENT AND THEATRE WILL BE HELD THE LAST SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH AT ARTS PLACE FROM 1-5PM. THOSE DATES INCLUDE SEPTEMBER 29, OCTOBER 27, NOVEMBER 17, DECEMBER 15, JANUARY 26, FEBRUARY 23, MARCH 30, APRIL 27, MAY 25, JUNE 29, JULY 27.

 REHEARSALS AUGUST 2013 - PERFORMANCES LABOR DAY WEEKEND OF 2013 - FEES $50 PER WORKSHOP

5 SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE

 APPLICATION AND AUDITION PROCESS

WE WILL BE ACCEPTING 15 FEMALE TEENS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE GIRL PROJECT.  IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN AUDITIONING DOWNLOAD AND FILL OUT THE APPLICATION AT WWW.MYKCT.ORG.  APPLICATIONS MUST BE COMPLETED AND WILL BE DUE AT THE TIME OF YOUR AUDITION.

 YOU MUST BE ABLE TO COMMIT TO EVERY SATURDAY WHORKSHOP IN ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED!

-FIVE SCHOLARSHIPS WILL BE AWARDED TO FINANCIALLY QUALIFYING STUDENTS-

 LOOK FOR THE GIRL PROJECT - www.mykct.org, Facebook Page – The Girl Project

QUESTIONS? EMAIL VBECKER@MYKCT.ORG

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