On April 11th, CMA hosted Writer’s Group: Teaching Femmes Through Theater at Women Make Movies in Manhattan. The workshop was hosted by the viBe Theater Experience, an NYC based organization focused on providing free after-school theater programs for girls. In addition to theater, the program empowers underserved teenage girls to express themselves through performance, video, music, and writing. Our sit down with the viBe team included speaking points from Executive Director of viBe, Toya Lillard, and viBe high school participants, Yanique and Angilene.
The event started with Lillard sharing the premise behind viBe and the importance of elevating young women through the arts. She noted that at the heart of viBe’s success is its pedagogical approach, prompting girls to speak uncensored in spaces where they are most often condemned. ViBe looks to legitimize and honor the courage of its participants by having them perform in real performance spaces around NYC. Through weekly workshops and meetings, the organization has placed young writers and leaders at the center of its mission to welcome more girls of color into safe spaces of expression and honesty.
Participants Yanique and Angilene gave us a closer understanding of what it’s like working within viBe by discussing their current works-in-progress. Yanique shared that she has come across many inspirational topics for her work but she has found that her mother’s experience with domestic violence was a topic that not only hit close to home for her but was something she felt needed more attention. Angilene added that her upcoming show was going to offer insight into the mind of a 14-year-old and the questions that she has going on in her own head. The girls also discussed how their shows developed through group meetings and discussions, and how those questions had helped to prompt topics and other internal reflections that made it into their shows.
Along with writing their own individual shows, Yanique and Angilene helped to create a show together called Through Her Eyes, written back in December of 2017, and was inspired by the Leesburg girls, who were arrested and detained for 3 months for protesting the segregation of their local movie theater in 1963 Georgia. Lillard shared how the show paralleled youth activism of today with that of Leesburg girls, and how’s its powerful message has haunted many who’ve seen it. Word of the show even made it all the way to Atlanta, Georgia, where they’ve been asked to perform Through Her Eyes in July 2018 by the nonprofit organization, Humanity In Action.
The conversation continued with discussions around what feminism means to women of color, the viBe rehearsal routine, the viBe Girl contract, and a special live performance by Yanique and Angilene.
About our viBe student participants:
Yanique Bundick is a 9th grader at Brooklyn High School of the Arts. She is exquisite, very talented, and open minded. She is really goofy when you get to know her and overall a great person.
Angilene Munroe is a talented singer, actor, and writer from East New York. She does not like to dance, but she is very determined to make a great impression when she can.