On Thursday, April 26, a group of Nelson youth participating in the Gender Action Project will perform live at the Mir Centre for Peace. “Rumours” and “Just a Friend,” interactive forum theatre pieces about gender issues, are the result of a ten-week long workshop series facilitated by the Nelson Women’s Centre, and supported by SelfDesign High and the Columbia Basin Trust.
The scenes are entirely written and performed by teens aged 14-18.Unlike ordinary theatre, forum is a space where the community is invited to be a part of the action onstage. These plays don’t have neat and tidy resolutions – they end in crisis.
Then the audience is asked to respond, by offering alternatives, options, and choices to the characters, attempting to change the outcome. It is an exercise in collective problem-solving, community responsibility, and self-exploration.
Together, we get a chance to look deeply at issues people in our community face, and explore ways we might address those problems together.The Gender Action Project (GAP) is facilitated by the West Kootenay Women’s Association, an organization with a 40-year history in the region, that works to promote gender justice and equality, and seeks to create supportive space for women in our community.
The Nelson Women’s Centre hosts a drop-in three days a week where women can access free food and clothing, counseling, referrals and advocacy. GAP was initiated in the hopes of extending this supportive space to youth, and learning together how to address gender justice issues in the younger generation.
Ten youth from the Nelson area participated in workshops this winter and spring, bringing their stories together to write two pieces which will be performed on Friday night. It has been a powerful and inspiring learning process for all involved, and the work of these youth will be honoured and built upon by the community attending Thursday’s performance.
There are plans to extend the program to youth in Castlegar and Trail in the Fall of 2012.The performance is at The Mir Centre for Peace, on the Selkirk College Campus in Castlegar. Admission is by donation to the Women’s Centre, and doors open at 6.30 p.m. The show starts at 7 p.m.