As Yefei led me into the Mu Performing Arts studio, I saw Katie Bradley and May Lee-Yang facilitating the Karen girls in an acting performance. This was their introduction to acting and preparing them for the 12th Night by Shakespeare at the Mix Blood Theater.
After the act, Katie engaged the girls to talk about their characters and different themes that emerged, regarding love, jealousy, and power. What was remarkable about this conversation was how well Katie was able to use acting as a tool for the girls to relate and develop language in talking about how these different themes manifested in their personal lives. This discussion allowed the girls to share their stories and had many laughs.
The next activity was facilitated by May and this time I get to participate! She asked two broad questions about how the girls received their names and a change that they had to go through. Everyone in the room formed two groups. As one group observes, the other group lines up for the front person to tell and perform out their response to the question as their group members mimic their moves. The front person would then move to the back of the line and each person in the group would do this until the last group member then the next group would get to do this. This activity asked personal questions in an engaging way that allows everyone to take risks in a safe environment and know that they are not the only one taking risks.
Afterward, May asked the group about their experience. One of the girls did not speak English very well. The solution of translating was offered to the girl but she decided to take on the challenge to articulate her own response, despite the overwhelming pressure from the group. I really admired that.
When Mina arrived with crunchy tacos, the girls did not hesitate to eat. There were more than enough for everyone. After the girls ate, we finished the night with a song and Yefei as our guitarist. Theater and acting is a powerful tool to empower these girls . I can see that this support group is where these girls can express themselves as they progress in their own personal development.
Advisor at CEHD Career Services and McNair Scholars Program (TRiO), the Univ. of Minnesota Twin CIties