We just had the best week!
AlterTheater just finished a weeklong pilot workshop for tribal youth called Crafting Story with Your Voice, and it was a hit! In partnership with Lucentree and Tall Tree Indigenous Education Consulting, playwright Vickie Ramirez (Tuscarora) led a class teaching 15 Native American students how to write a monologue. The workshop culminated with professional Native actors joining the workshop. The professional actors had been about to start rehearsals for AlterTheater’s production of Vickie’s play Pure Native when the pandemic shut everything down. On hold until things reopen, our actors joined the workshop on the final day to perform the students’ monologue live.
On Monday, we asked the students to come up with characters and to think about their characters' lives: what do they want, who do they want to be, what scares them the most—and by the end of the week they shared so much of their own experiences and lives through the lives of the characters they had built. From a detective duck looking for a murderer to a girl who tested positive for COVID quarantining from her family; from a jock with dreams of becoming a dancer to a Native woman fighting for suffrage in the 1920s—the stories they shared gave us a wonderful taste of the humor, interests, and worries of Native kids today. Throughout the week we heard feedback about how meaningful the program is: helping kids learn how to speak their own truths, share space with adult artists with similar experiences, and dream about their futures through theater. Teresa Melendez of Tall Tree Indigenous Education Consulting and our tribal liaison, said of this week, “I know that success for college students depends on resiliency, and self-advocacy. And the ability to speak for themselves. A lot of our kids don’t know how to speak for themselves. There’s so much power in being able to write and then speak your experience, and speak about their passions. How can we step up and empower our kids in ways that the public school system can’t?" Melendez and Jeanette Harrison, AlterTheater Artistic Director, reflected on common themes among the students’ work: "The three oldest girls, 14-15 year olds, are all writing about invisibility, and ways in which invisibility is harmful. They are already, at their young ages, picking up on what we as adults are only just learning to vocalize.”
More news about upcoming workshops soon!