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“I loved performing and showing off our ideas to the audience,” Guadalupe smiles. Since the beginning of our Prevention Department’s After-school Program (ASP) in October, the elementary, middle, and high school groups have been participating in on-site workshops with the Matrix Theatre Company. Also located in southwest Detroit, the Matrix Theatre Company teaches, creates, and shares theatre as an instrument of transformation. The Matrix School of Theatre offers workshops for youth between the ages of 5-18 in play writing, puppetry, and performance. The workshops allow a safe space for youth to voice their opinions, tell their story, create their own solutions and empower them by allowing the youth to express themselves by using their own words, self-confidence, and imagination.
For a month leading up to the performances, Matrix worked with each ASP group to create their own original performance and provide them with an introduction to acting and play writing concepts. During the workshops, Matrix started by talking with the girls about the issues that they are currently dealing with and then built the story or performance from there. “My favorite part was writing our performance because everyone’s ideas were crazy and I like them,” Guadalupe, who performed with the middle school group, shared. “Everyone just called out their ideas and then we voted on whose we liked the best,” she continued. From these discussions, the groups came up with performances on the topics of bullying, making positive choices, and self-empowerment.
After they wrote their acts, the girls then learned acting and theatrical concepts that would help them perform their pieces. “We learned to always be dramatic, to never turn our backs to the audience, how to walk on stage, and so many other things!” Jamiah, another middle school group participant, shared. “And we learned about the four brothers of movement, the different parts of the stage, and how to move on the stage,” Guadalupe added.
Once the performances were written and the girls had practiced their new skills, it was show time! On November 19th, all three groups performed their original performances for their family and friends right here at AFG. “My favorite part was performing,” Jamiah shared, smiling. “I helped make up the dance we did to “Thriller” and it was really fun.” The middle school group’s performance included a lot of improvisation and an interactive story line that allowed the audience to join in on the fun!
Not to be outdone, the elementary group added Spanish to their performance on the topic of bullying to help the girls and audience members who are bilingual feel more comfortable. Lastly, the high school group put on a moving performance about self-empowerment filled will positive affirmations. “I affirm that I am beautiful” and “I will be proud of who I am and where I am now” were just a few highlights from their performance.
With smiles on their faces, each girl took a bow and then rushed to talk to their parents, siblings, and friends about their performance. Their enthusiasm and joy told the story of their new love for theater.
Alternatives For Girls would like to thank the Matrix Theatre company for their time and support while teaching their workshop!