The other day Maya, our Program Manager, shared an experience she had with high schoolers during a program. She was facilitating an activity with them called “The Great Game of Power”. We use this activity to explore a particular group’s dynamics, perceptions, and experiences around power.
Her story had quite an impact on me. I share it with you. Her words…
Jessie placed three chairs laying on their backs in a triangle and took the fourth chair and stacked it on top. He finished by placing a water bottle on top of the fourth chair. As Jessie completed his image of power, I said to the group, “Tell a story of the chairs. And relate it to something in your own lives.”
A youth participant offered, “The person on top has all the water to themselves and won’t give any to other people”.
That interpretation of the image started the group talking about Africa and the lack of access to water there. We ended up talking about Cape Town where “rich white people had the water and no one else did”.
Kaddi, a participant who identifies as a person of color, was quick to respond back. “Why’s it always gotta be black and white? Why can’t people just be people. Ya, there are some white people I don’t like, but you’re white and I like you.”
The group shifted and a new form took place; the youth began to voice their frustrations with all the anger and hate in our nation these days. They freely shared the opinions about the polarization they see around them. Us vs Them. You vs Me. The dialogue continued on until one youth finally said, “What’s the point? We can’t change anything anyway.”
It was such a good question…one that begged me to want to answer…for them…for myself. After a long pause, I admitted, “I don’t have all the answers. This class is supposed to make you think…to ask hard questions. You did.”
They stared back at me disappointed…like they needed me to have the solution that would solve the greatest question.
I finally said, “I definitely don’t have all the answers, but what we will be doing together is learning through theatre how to connect, how to share space for each other’s stories, and how to simply be human together.”
As I shared earlier, this story held deep impact for me. We are all human. We are all fighting to be heard. To feel valued. To know our purpose. So what isn’t working? In effort to be understood, we struggle with our own ability to understand. Others are using those misunderstandings to their advantage. To divide us.
For our youth that day, Maya’s last response finally seemed enough. Enough to drive them to action. To determine the truth about our current state for themselves. To want to do something about it. Now, it’s your turn. A few ways you can make a difference today:
- Listen – Like when you ask someone how they’re doing…mean it.
- Activate – Your bodies, your voices, your purpose. Don’t forget #1.
- Invest – In Mirror Image Arts – theatre for connection and social-emotional wellbeing.
You can help us achieve our goal to raise $7,000 by December 31st. Here’s specifically how you can impact #3:
- $60 Covers trauma informed care training for 3 actors to serve young people affected by trauma.
- $100 Equips Program staff with the supplies to bring the joy of theatre and humanity to the classroom for one year.
- $300 Supports social-emotional skill building for one young person growing up in a juvenile detention center.
- $850 Funds an 11 wk program for 5th graders that promotes self-awareness, empathy, and embracing differences.