The space inside Actors Bridge studio is immediately intimate. Cushioned benches line the walls, blankets are strewn about, pillows make each corner cozy, and hand-painted blue-purple walls complement a golden fabric ceiling.
Community educator and local playwright Cynthia Harris sits nestled among a group of girls ages 12-18. They lean on one another as Harris delves into some of her past hardships and tells the girls, “Ask for the help you need when you need it. You don’t get extra points for doing it the hard way.”
Harris was a guest speaker for local program Act Like a GRRRL, which aims to provide a safe space and community for girls to form their own voice and learn how to navigate being a woman through friendship, mentorship and the art of writing.
“I think anywhere women gather, there is storytelling and healing going on,” Harris said. Her mother was a hairdresser, and she spent much of her childhood sitting in the beauty parlor and listening to women share their stories.
Act Like a GRRRL provides a similar environment to girls who are existing in a world where cyber-bullying and Queen B culture are the norm. Over the course of June, they create an original performance, including monologues, dances and a co-written song. This year marks the program’s 10th anniversary. Guest artists like Harris are brought in over the course of the program to show the girls that women can accomplish amazing things.
“These young girls, and girls in general, are a precious resource. It is true that you can judge the health of a community and a nation by the health of the women and girls. I am just as educated and blessed by them as I hope that they can be by participating in this process.”
Reach Journalist Paige Pfleger at firstname.lastname@example.org| 615-259-8072 | Twitter @PaigePfleger.
Photo: John Partipilo / The Tennessean
Go to a GRRRL show
What: A performance that combines original, student-created theater, music and dance through the Act Like a GRRRL program.
When: 7:30 p.m. June 26 and 27
Where: Belmont University’s Black Box Theater (1575 Compton Ave., Nashville)
Cost: $15 adults, $10 students
Info: To learn more, volunteer for the program or make a donation, visit http://actlikeagrrrl.org