From 2016 – 2019 Voice Theatre implemented workshops at six Ulster County high schools. Once it is safe to have in-person workshops Voice Theatre will resume these workshops. Interactive workshops combat bullying and examine the refugee crisis with in-school performances for 10th and 11th grade students. As part of this process we will also lead workshops for unaccompanied, undocumented refugee teens awaiting to be united with their families. Refugee and combating bullying workshops have taken place at The Kingston Home for Children. Participating school have been; Kingston High School, Hudson Valley Pathways Academy, Saugerties High School, The Kingston Home for Children, Ulster Boces and Highland High School.
Utilizing improvisation, theatre games and journal writing, American students write monologues examining their experiences of bullying, racism and exclusion. Aligned to Common Core Curriculum Standards students explore their original writing through improvisation, role-playing, mirroring and the Spoken Arts.
Refugee students write monologues about why they had to leave their country. Emphasis is on collaboration, original ideas, teamwork and constructive feedback. In the final four workshops both groups come together to meet and share their ideas ending with an in-school performance. These are powerful sessions that allow all students to meet and exchange ideas and stories. For most students these sessions are taking place for the first time and have a lasting impact on the young participants outlooks.
Our goal is to reduce bullying and for all students to see each other as individuals rather than just “refugees” or “Americans” or “the other”. We develop the skills of listening, empathy and respect for differing viewpoints as students’ share their monologues. Since much of the material for the workshop is generated from the student’s own experiences we strive to have a lasting impact on all our students and teachers as they navigate the difficult definitions, boundaries and borders of the future and what it will mean to be an American.
Sessions I – V
These sessions simultaneously take place in Spanish at the Children’s Home of Kingston and in English at local high schools, totaling ten sessions. Voice Theatre’s Teaching artists will implement improvisation, role-playing, theatre games and mirroring as students write monologues based on their own experiences of racial exclusion, refugee flight home and bullying. All students read their monologues out loud.
Session VI – VIII
Both refugees and American students meet and share their stories in small groups and rehearse for a presentation where their will perform their stories to an in-school audience.
Students share how this experience has informed and touched their lives’. Students and teachers fill out final questionnaires for the Final Report on the project.
Outcomes / Results / Impacts
Our goal is for students to learn how to recognize the bullying, intolerance and discrimination and use tools experienced in the workshops to identify and disengage from the stereotype and the bully. It is our hope that the personal experiences shared will have a meaningful impact in shaping the lives of all refugee and American participants.