Meg and I met with Jennifer Scott, program director for PRIDE, at Travis County Correction Complex this past Thursday. We agreed that Conspire Theatre should resume workshops the week of March 22nd. We’re going in a new direction this time around and I’m really excited about it. Instead of teaching two classes a week for five weeks, we’ll be teaching one class a week for an unspecified amount of time. In other words, we’re going in for the long haul. This will give us the time and space to really develop the program and to discover what new techniques and activities we can use to really enhance the women’s experience. Jennifer expressed a desire that we teach a unit on performance and slam poetry, Meg is always interested in more movement and dance work and I love working with masks and expanding on creative writing techniques. We’ll be able to bring in guest artists and offer a greater array of our own talents.
We also discussed connecting Conspire Theatre more closely with the PRIDE program but Jennifer is happy to let us stand alone, a little different. Meg and I have been talking back and forth about what our role should be in the program – we know that we provide a space for fun and joy but should we be pushing towards more self-reflection? We’ve come to the realization that we’re not therapists, so delving into the women’s past trauma isn’t very safe for anyone involved. It’s cruel to drag those things up and then leave. It takes a trained therapist or social worker to understand how to safely open and then close those sessions. Otherwise, women are left with re-opened wounds and probably quite a bit of resentment.
The balance we’re hoping for is to offer that community building, joyful place while still pushing the women to consider their actions and to see themselves from the outside. To realize how they affect others. To learn about more than the worlds they’ve inhabited so far. To discover the excitement of artistic self-expression. To create a place of respect and community. To help the women move from survival mode to possibility mode.
As always, donations are welcome and appreciated to support us in this new endeavor!