Wabun Tribal Council

Youth Gathering Theatre for Living Workshop

The Wabun Tribal Council hosts an annual gathering that provides youth from different Wabun communities with the opportunity to connect, learn, share and grow. The gatherings have been taking place for over ten years, bringing to life a vision and dream of an Elder from the Wabun community of Brunswick House. Over the years youth have taken part in activities related to harvesting and land based skills, cultural teachings, craft making, traditional dancing, healing, sports, and more.

In February 2017 the youth gathering was focused on wisdom for wellness. We were hired to facilitate a workshop on using theatre, improv and comedy as tools for enhancing both personal and community wellness. Our workshop took place over two days and included both improv (theatre made up on the spot) and Theatre for Living (a process that uses theatre to create social change).

Improv games and exercises encouraged participants to release their inhibitions, be playful and make each other laugh. Throughout all this fun, participants also developed valuable improv-related skills including active listening and collaboration. One of the key principles of improv is that there are no mistakes, only opportunities. Thanks to this teaching, youth who were initially reluctant to participate became more comfortable with expressing themselves and connecting with others in the group. Community chaperones at the gathering expressed their amazement that youth who are usually too shy to speak in groups were performing on stage, keeping the audience laughing until the end of the performance.

The theatre portion of the workshop was based on ‘Theatre for Living’ – a process that has been used around the world to help address issues of injustice, build strong communities and create social change. Wabun youth decided to use the Theatre for Living process to address the issue of bullying. Our consultants guided the youth through a series of activities that helped them share their stories related to bullying, identify core struggles, and begin imagining possibilities for positive change. Youth were taught how to turn their stories and ideas into theatrical scenes to perform for an audience. The theatre that the youth produced was deeply moving and powerful. They impressed each other with their creativity, and inspired one another to work for positive change in their communities.

Value for the Client Group

Youth participants gained new tools and knowledge for building up personal wellness, and for contributing to greater wellness in their home communities. Our workshop created a space for youth that was free of judgment, enabling the building of trust and the nourishment of self expression, imagination and creativity. Youth also developed skills and awareness related to active listening, team work, and conflict resolution. Through their work with Theatre for Living youth learned how the arts can be used to generate dialogue around community struggles, build connections and understanding, and resolve conflicts. Most importantly, they shared their own stories and gained confidence in their own voice.

Summary

Budget: $15,000

Timmins, ON

2017

Expertise

Our workshop created a space for youth that was free of judgment, enabling the building of trust and the nourishment of self expression, imagination and creativity.

Zoë Barret-Wood

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