(Shelley MacDonald, a youthLEADarts mentor, is the author of this blog.- Stand-by for blogs from some of our other youthLEADarts team this week!)
Today we began our week 2 journey with youthLEADarts Britannia. The students were excited and ready to work with our theatre artist and Quebec youthLEADarts mentor Tina! She had them up on their feet and moving around right away with her “person to person” physical ice breaker activity. Warmed up and ready to act, Students in pairs acted out an emotion as they walked down a fashion run way. Tina told the students that Acting = Not Being You. You can easily change 3 things in order to create a character: Your face, your voice, your body. Tina also created some characters on the spot to demo how this works for the students. She was hilarious and really showed her acting chops!
It was great to see the students coming alive and animated with so much emotion. Even their teacher and education assistant came onto the fashion show stage and strutted their stuff to a giggling audience.
The students are working towards creating a spoken word video, a call to action about ending racism and we needed to go deeper in our journey together to the heart of what causes racism and how can we change or break the cycle. Tina introduced the students to “Active Witnessing!”
Active Witnessing is Hearing, seeing, feeling and doing. It is when a person is putting their awareness into action, are overtly responding to the situation of discrimination, harassment and stereotyping and are conveying empathy and support for the targets of this hurtful behaviour. In this stage, there is a move towards deliberate action to stand up and offer support. (http://testreally.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2010/08/Active-Witnessing-Triangle.pdf)
Each group was given a scenario of racism in action and had to act out the scene. In each of the scenes there was a witness who had to take action. Elder Amanda White encouraged the students to be brave and shared her own story of being a witness to a recent incident on the bus. Everyone shared excerpts of their scenes and with their teacher were going to do some more writing reflection and discussion in the afternoon. In our closing circle students shared some of their discoveries:
“I learned to use my voice more.”
“Acting is not as easy as you think.”
“I learned how to add expression and emotion to my voice”
“I want to work on being more serious.”
A great day of learning, teamwork, creativity, and taking action!