Today we began with one of my favorite games: zip zap boing! The exclamation point is necessary because the game is high energy and I try and infuse as much ridiculousness into it as I can. You have not lived until you have gotten a group of people to bust out laughing at each other over different interpretations of the word ‘boing.’ Quick explanation: a zip (as demonstrated by Meg in the photo) is passed around the circle. If the zippee does not want to accept the zip, she can ‘boing’ (as demonstrated by myself in the second photo. I am boinging the TCCC sign.). The zip then changes direction and goes the other way round the circle. If the zip gets caught (the two people on either side keeping boinging back and forth), then the zipper can ‘zap’ across the circle to someone else, who resumes the zip. It’s all much simpler in person.
This group caught on to it really fast. Usually, I only introduce zip and boing the first day, then bring the zap in during the second day of playing, because zap makes the whole thing fall apart. Today, however, I brought in all three as the group was quick and ready to go. They had all just woken up right before our class, so I was a little surprised at the energy. Jail time is much different than real time; inmates wake up at 4:30 a.m. each morning. They are allowed to nap at other times, but are given what I assume to be a somewhat rude awakening when they have to go to class. Most of the women came in a little bleary eyed and sleepy.
We also played blind handshakes, which is a beginning to more involved trust exercises. The women shake hands with a partner, close their eyes, each take three steps back, then three steps forward with their eyes closed. They then open their eyes to see how closely they’ve gotten back to their original positions. This helps with physical awareness and trust.
Today was monologue day! Meg and I each read a monologue and we discussed what made them work, what made them interesting. We then brainstormed from our theme (love) different scenarios that their monologues could be about. First love, divorce, marriage, material possessions (new car, new house), families, god, self love, food, were just some of the ideas we threw out there. I asked them to consider several questions while writing: Who is speaking? Where is she? Who is she speaking to? What does she want? The group had given sophisticated analyses of what the characters in the example monologues wanted, so I was excited to see what wants would underlay their writing.
I so wish that I could put some of their monologues up here. The ones that I read in class today were fantastic. They dealt with everything from picking up someone in a bar, to the love of creating art with other people, to the hope that children can bring you, to how the only thing you can rely on to always be there are the stars in the night sky. Meg and I emphasized that these could be true to life or completely fictitious. Into whichever category they fell, they were all fearless expressions of self.
We also had a guest today. One of the other volunteers, who teaches anger management, sat in on our class today. She uses roleplay in her class to teach the women how to handle emotions in negative environments, and she was quite interested in what we were doing. I’m hoping that I can sit in on her class as well.
I find it difficult that the women cannot post their writings here because it gives a one sided account of these workshops. I am the teacher, and as much as I may try cede my dominant position in the classroom, I cannot stop being the dominant narrator of this particular story. I give my interpretations of what happens each day and I pick and choose which moments to highlight. I am only one set of eyes, ears and opinions of about eighteen women who are participating. I ask you to consider that my story is not the only one and that the untold narratives in the group should carry as much weight as mine. In the future, I hope to find a way to remedy this and to give the participants a way to represent themselves but for the present, I can only be as fair as I know how in these writings and try to give an empathetic and honest portrayal.
On Friday we’ll share the monologues and work on actually performing them. I can’t wait!