home school project begins

First, a few words about this blog and process.

We will chronicle the process of creating a brand new performance piece that will be brought to life through a five week workshop conducted @ the Hennepin County Home School, starting with our first rehearsal and ending after our victory celebration. Because all of the residents are under 18, no names will be used and no photos will be posted; however individual writing pieces will be anonymously posted and certainly anecdotes will be shared.

We have a wonderfully talented group of teaching artists: Jamila Anderson, Patricia Brown, Ahanti Young and myself.

Today was the audition session of the process where the students who’ve been cleared to participate are eager, anxious, and full of excitement and curiosity. As we started with the “Energy Ball” with the males (explanation to follow) an exercise staple andbasic theatre game, wide-eyed participants looked from Jamila to me wondering who were these people and why were they asking usto do this crazy stuff? After the first round and the initial hesitancy, one by one each member, ielded slowly to the idea of not looking “cool” in front of the rest of the group. By the time we got to the third round, where the “ball” could be transformed into a specific object or activity, they were all in–finding the enjoyment in the spontaneity of the moment. Without openly showing they were having fun.

I am always amazed by how far away from childhood we start out yet how quickly wecome back to it.

This year we are trying something new (or at least new for me) with a mixed group of performers. A play in two acts from both the male and female points of view of life as teen. I was hesitant to take the journey but after ninety minutes with the young ladies I walked away hopeful and believing something special can happen. The ladies brought a cooperative spirit to the same “ Energy Ball” exercise that was revealing. The guys approached the exercises as a competition while the ladies took longer to commit but once in, they built off each other–in spite of struggling to maintain a veneer of indifference. They ended up going around four times without stopping, each one watching the others and vamping on the idea, subconsciously creating small stories. A piano became a turntable and then transformed into a microphone and we where serenaded by a wordless concert. Afterward one of the staff in the room leaned over and whispered “That was beautiful!” And he was right.

I wish I knew what all of that meant so far. If  any of you have a theory please post. I can use all the help I can get.

Until tomorrow,

About JayyDubb

James A. Williams Director of teen programming, Nationally, Williams has an extensive performing history with Centerstage, The Goodman, Mark Taper Forum, The McCarter, Seattle Rep and Yale Rep culminating on Broadway in August Wilson’s Radio Golf. Williams performed multiple roles in the Kennedy Center’s August Wilson’s Century Cycle in 2008 and Off-Broadway in Jitney and Marion Clinton’s Walkers. He served as Co-director and acting coach for Seeds of Change program in St Paul, MN and Artistic Director of the Hennepin County Home School Theatre Project. He has led performance workshops at Brown University, Colby College, Macalester College, University of Minnesota, the International School of Kenya, Nshupu School, Tanzania and Penumbra Theatre Summer Institute. A founding company member of Penumbra Theatre,. in 2001 Williams was awarded the St. Paul Companies Leadership Initiative in the Neighborhoods Grant, a 2005 NAACP Image Award Nominee. He was named Actor of the Year by Mpls/ St.Paul City Pages magazine (2003). In 2008 he received an Ivey Award for performance excellence and was named 2008 Artist of the Year by the Minneapolis Startribune He is TCG New Generations Leadership fellow

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