Global Theater of the Girls is a theater outreach program (part of Theater Between) that proposes to empower young women from underprivileged communities around the world through live performance. Working in conjunction with Educate Girls Globally (EGG), Global Theater of the Girls is collaborating with young women in rural India (Rudrapur) who are raised to live a life confined to domestic duties and traditional obligations but who wish to achieve independence through education and creative self-expression.
We are in our first, exploratory phase. We begin it by mounting a multi-day, introductory workshop in Rudrapur. There, we work with the girls from neighboring rural communities.
Our program gives them artistic training, encouragement, and support. We acknowledge and validate the individual experience of each girl as she comes to trust her inner authority, authenticity, and uniqueness.
During our workshop, the girls learn how to tell their own stories through acting, vocal and movement improvisation, and creative writing. We invite them to move, to dance, to jump, to run, to sing, to yell; to transform into animals, trees, flowers; to assume the form of beings, real and imagined. We invite them to express and embrace their emotions - all of them, not just the "acceptable" ones. We invite them to soar.
Through engaging in this creative and embodied practice, we hope that the young women discover that the reality around them - just like the reality of the theater itself - is malleable and responsive to imagination and intent, rather than simply given by tradition and fate. This, in turn, may empower them to live an artistically informed and empowered life, which they get to shape as they see fit.
This introductory trip will take place from June 1 to June 14.
The second part of the project develops and deepens the ideas introduced in the first phase. It consists of an intensive 21-day workshop conducted in October 2017, during which the girls undergo performance training in improvisational and devised theater that results in mounting of a touring production for local communities and for future travels abroad.
A final word regarding the artistic integrity of the work: we wish to nurture the authenticity of the young women's expression while at the same time providing them with the highest achievable level of training that will culminate in the creation of a notable piece of stage work. We aim at both the honesty and rawness of communication as well as at the excellence of its formal presentation that makes use of many artistic techniques, from Realism to more abstract and/or symbolic styles. We realize that this is an ambitious goal and we hope to begin the process of its actualization in the near future, and wherever we encounter girls seeking self-expression: in India, in the USA, and in any and all countries of the world.
Risks and challenges
There are a variety of practical and cultural challenges that face Global Theater of the Girls. On a material level, given the remote and rural location of the project site, any physical malfunction--from video-camera failure to the non-cooperation of a sound system (should one be available) to transportation mishaps--can result in stalling or halting the process altogether and can have an impact on delivering some of our promised rewards.
More significantly, however, we are facing a number of cultural challenges that center around the issue of translation. As Westerners, we want to make sure that our own world-view does not blind us to the young women's perspectives or unduly affect them. We are doing our best to prepare, but the culture shock, on both sides, is probably inevitable. Fortunately, we will be working closely with the members of local communities who are experienced at navigating both cultural idioms. We will rely on their services in a literal way, working with translators in our day-to-day activities (a likely challenge in itself). We will also rely on them for illuminating a cultural context for all of our interactions and for providing all of us with a common-ground to create a conducive atmosphere for the work.
Another challenge will be, we expect, the subject matter of the work itself. From what we already know, the girls are ready to tackle controversial subjects such as child marriage, gender inequality and the like. We want to ensure that the young women both fully express their feelings and ideas and that they receive and adequate validation and support in their local communities after the show is over. We know that this protective, educational infrastructure is already in place through EGG and their engagement with the specific segments of the local population. We want to do all we can to re-enforce it during our stay, and to tend to it after we leave, making sure that the work of the Theater of the Girls is shown all over the world.
USE FOR FUNDING
At this time, we are raising funds to support the introductory phase of the Global Theater of the Girls, a Phase One of the project. (At a later date, we are planning to raise funds for Phase Two as well.) Now, we need to cover the travel expenses to and From India for our two instructors, provide for their room and board while there, cover the rental of a local rehearsal space, cost of student transportation from neighboring villages to the rehearsal studio as well as for workshop materials (including rehearsal outfits.) The amount we are hoping to raise addresses these projected expenses.
On behalf of the girls, we immensely appreciate your interest in the project and your support for this important and transformative work.
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