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Centre for Urban Schooling


Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People

CUS Facilitator(s): Dr. Kathleen Gallagher, Dr. Dominique Rivière
CUS Graduate Assistant(s): Anne Wessels

In collaboration with Karen Gilodo, Educational Services Coordinator for the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People (LKTYP), Dr. Kathleen Gallagher, Dr. Dominique Rivière, and CUS graduate student Anne Wessels, facilitated a workshop for teachers, teacher candidates, parents and caregivers. The workshop, The Shape of Power, was envisioned as a way of opening up dialogue regarding power and its many manifestations in schools. It was inspired by the play, The Shape of a Girl by Joan MacLeod that was included in LKTYP’s 2010/2011 season.

Karen Gilodo and LKTYP’s Artistic Director, Allen MacInnis, welcomed the invited group and opened the evening by relating power and violence to the plays presented this season at LKTYP. As the participants moved into the theatre, they read displays, prepared by Anne Wessels, that included statistics about the prevalence of peer-to-peer violence as well as quotes that had been gathered from the When Teens Hurt Teens: Helping Victims of “Youth-on-Youth” Criminal Violence, a research report completed in London, Ontario, funded by the Ontario Victim Services Secretariat, Ministry of the Attorney General.

Dominique began the evening by introducing two kinds of invisibility that can result from peer to peer violence in schools: youth may try to make themselves invisible as a means of coping, and teachers may experience difficulties in perceiving this kind of violence that can, at times, seem invisible. The audience (comprised of teachers, parents, theatre artists and scholars) was invited to offer reflections about their experiences and the ensuing discussion was enhanced by the insightful comments offered by a worker from the community organization, Boost: Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention.

Karen then introduced the play, The Shape of a Girl, from which Kathleen read a scene. In this scene, the main character, Braidie, acknowledges that she knows the ‘way in’ to violence and that she began to ‘read’ relations of power at a very young age. Following the reading, we asked the participants to enter into the child’s world of power by playing a ‘sing-song’ game of escalating insults to the melody of teasing. This was followed by a debriefing that addressed the dynamics of power that the participants experienced and how it might be possible to escape this loop. A second drama exercise asked participants to ‘outdo’ each other with ‘apologies’. Following this drama exercise was a discussion about the possibility of ‘real’ apology and reconciliation. We addressed the larger context of ‘apologies’ in the context of Rwanda, South Africa and residential schools here in Canada.

One of the resident artist-educators at LKTYP, Ann Marie Woods, offered a spoken word presentation about her experience of being a bully in high school. This personal story was followed by the workshop participants writing their personal stories about a time when they had been the bully, been bullied or acted as a witness to bullying (bystander). Dramas were then created from significant words pulled from the writing. The evening of drama and dialogue was brought to a close as we reflected on the pressing issue of power and its relation to ‘youth-to-youth’ violence. This event marked the second year of a collaboration that will continue in 2011/2012 between the Centre for Urban Schooling and Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People.

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