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  • Writer's pictureParker Sera


This February and March, BuildaBridge joined GEGISOM to provide a hope-infused acting workshop

“BuildaBridge and North Philly’s Georgia E. Gregory Interdenominational School of Music (GEGISOM) have long been aware of one another as kindred organizations with shared goals— to enrich and uplift communities through the arts, so we’re hopeful that Act Out is just the first of many fruitful partnerships!"

Over the last 4 weeks, a dedicated group of young artists gathered at GEGISOM on Saturday mornings to play, learn, and explore the art of acting as a means to lift their individual and collective voices. Theatre, as an art, is an incredible tool for storytelling, yes, but even more than that, the skills necessary to create theatre hinge on cultivating social and emotional fluency, mindfulness, and creative collaboration. The power of theatre, then, to enrich communities, is manyfold. Not only can we use theatre to send powerful messages through storytelling, but in doing so we can become more emotionally fluent, mindful, and resilient, as individuals and collectives.

We started designing the Act Out curriculum with this in mind. It was really important to us as we started to plan the session that we create a lesson plan that was adaptable to the needs and interests of our potential students, and that centered creative expression and community engagement as the impetus for storytelling.

At the end of our first session, it was clear we had an amazing group of young artists who were up for the layered challenge of collaboration and emotional openness. Acting class can be a jarring experience for a first timer, and although we had many first-time actors, they all came into the room heart-first and were so willing to be open, to get silly, and to lose their inhibitions in the name of trying new things. Throughout our four weeks, they were supportive and respectful, sharing ideas and encouraging one another. At the end of one of our sessions, when everyone was remarking how tired they felt, one student spoke up "Let's take tired as a compliment! We all worked so hard today!"

Over the course of 4 weeks, students not only honed their acting skills but also took an active role in writing and creating short scenes that spoke to issues they cared about. In rehearsal terms, 4 sessions of 2 hours each is not a lot of time, and our students were able to harness that time incredibly well. The culmination of session 4 was a short showcase of original scene work created and performed by our students, the youngest of whom is only 10! We can’t wait to see what else the young artists at GEGISOM are capable of as we move forward in our partnership.”

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