GIRL-illa Theatre: The 7th Grade Voice Project

Art Discipline: Theatre

What a joyous experience! Through theatre, seventh grade students learned to use their voices to speak up and speak out. GIRL-illa Theatre: The 7th Grade Voice Project taught principals of acting--projection, pace, audience engagement, and movement--and showed students how to use theatre to be socially active. Students also learned basic carpentry skills, as they had to build their soapboxes. Students wrote a soapbox monologue with specific parameters; either a "she-ro" (their female hero) poem or a "This I Believe" speech. Jenny Stafford, our Think 360 Teaching Artist, came in to the 7th grade classes early in the process to help guide their writing and teach them a little about playwriting, as it pertained to their speech. She also worked with the high school performance class, and workshopped being a strong female leader and mentor for younger girls. The mentors then came in to see and hear the young writer's speeches. It was so uplifting to see high school teenagers inspired by their young mentees; the mentors encouraged and coached the younger students to help them with their stage skills, and ready them for their performance night. And then, they did it; they went onstage in front of an audience composed of their teachers, parents, and peers, and they shared their speeches. They used their voices to tell us about something special and important to them. Students who identify as shy or introverted performed. Students who claimed they didn't care performed. Students who were talented, and brilliant, and wonderful performed. Students who are emerging bilingual performed in two languages. Students that have a range of identified learning disabilities and challenges performed. And they were all changed for the better through this project; they all took a little piece of theatre with them that night, and they will carry that moment with them forever, as will their peers who cheered them on.

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