On August 31st, I was delighted by the feeling of welcome when I entered our gathering space. The room was already set up in a circle of chairs with participants smiling from their seats, offering warm hellos; a welcome contrast to the sight of armed guards and the sound of locking doors behind me. We jumped right into the workshop, which was a variation of the standard Healing Waters House Party. The workshop was adjusted to accomodate the large groups of attendants, as a typical House Party has a maximum attendance of 15. We took time in the beginning to breathe together and to bring our good energy and intention into the circle.
In preparing our group to perform, we played a few important theater based warm up activities. We listened to easy Cuban sound of Omara Portuondo as we “Covered the Space.” We let the music guide our bodies around the room, then after freezing in place we imagined a scene in our heads that the movement inspired. Next we moved “Across the Circle”, powerfully saying our names as we locked eyes with a person across the circle, then moved to take that persons space. The activities connected easily to our conversation on maintaining a safe space for creative play, highlighting what would be and would not be welcome in our space.
Soon it was time for reading. The four main characters of “Why Won’t She Leave?” were divided into three parts, giving us a total of 12 readers for the performance. All the other workshop participants were responsible for reciting the part of The Chorus. It was powerful to hear a room full of women reciting the lines…
“She is so pretty and so smart. She can have any man she wants. Why Won’t She Leave?”
The reading was awesome. The actor/participants quickly found the rhythm of the piece and fell effortlessly into character, ones they’d only been introduced to moments before. We used a combination of large group processing and mini-sessions, so that participants could discuss the feelings that came up however they were most comfortable. We closed with a panel of experts from the group, modelling for the rest of us how we might provide social support for a woman in our life having a story similar to that of the main character. Participant feedback from the workshop is listed below.
For more information about the event and participant feedback, click here