• Eugene Stickland

From The Inside Outward

Helen reminds me that our current work with the girls on The Road project is actually the fourth time we have all worked together: first, we created the full version of Committing, and then the scaled down version titled Committing to our Futures; finally, last year we created the Make Believer Project. And now, The Road.

I'm not sure what prepared me to oversee such projects. Most if not all of my experience of leading writing workshops and creating collective theatre has involved only adults. The Stardale girls are still very young, anywhere from twelve to seventeen. They are, as the expression goes, just coming of age. With that comes an increasing awareness of the world around them. Surely that is a common aspect of adolescence that we all have gone through. And yet, to express that awareness in words is never easy, and as we all know, teenagers can be quite reticent at times.

So how do we do this? How do we work?

Typically, we begin the evening in a circle and I talk a little about one particular aspect of the current project. For example, with the Make Believer Project, this basically fell into two broad categories: what do you want, what do you dream of; and what do worry will prevent you from realizing what you want and fulfilling your dreams?

The Road is in its largest sense meant to be a reaction to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, which is titled "Reclaiming Power and Place." This is obviously a very charged and political subject. It's also an area that the girls really know nothing about.

As I mentioned in the last blog, it's not my goal to traumatize these girls with the horrible truths that came to light as a result of the inquiry. I have taken some of what I feel are the important aspects of the report and am asking the girls how these things make them feel.

For example, although they may never have had someone go missing from their lives in the way that was revealed in the inquiry, is it possible that at sometime in their young lives they lost a friend whose family suddenly moved away?

And how does that make them feel? How does it make any of us feel?

Is it possible that they have lost a grandmother or grandfather through natural causes? And how does that make them feel? One girl last week shared with us the feelings she had when her grandfather died. It was very emotional and I hope cathartic. Everyone there could relate to what she was feeling. Along with the tears, there were lots of supportive hugs.

I have a card with that story written on it. I have many cards. Some of them would break your heart.

In creating such work, we like to move from the specific to the universal, from the inside outward. To make a broader statement about Stardale's reaction to the inquiry, and to show our support for our indigenous sisters, will be left to me, which I will do mainly through the editing and arrangement of the girls' words, with maybe a little added narration. As far as possible I try to work with the words the girls provide themselves.

In my next blog, I will share some of the words and images the girls have written thus far . . . without revealing too much, because after all we hope you will come and see this work for yourselves when we present it in the spring.

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