Lauren Jeanne Thomas
Expanding students' view of our world!
I seek to use theater as a means to help students break the barriers between themselves and others created by racism, sexism, stereotypes, etc.
This Fall, we explored She Eats Apples by Stephanie Brownell with 115 high-school students at Strath Haven High School in Wallingford, PA. The play used the structure of a fairy tale to explore a teenager's journey with her sexual identity. This play is a powerful example of how the portrayal of men and women in art and media influences victim blaming and slut shaming.
As a high schooler, I felt overwhelmed by the news/media, and found it difficult to find the truth in order to form my own opinions. With that in mind, Breaking Barriers begins each workshop by using games to see what peoples' stereotypes might be about the topic at hand. For She Eats Apples, we played word association games pertaining to gender-roles with words/phrases such as, "Knight in Shining Armour," "You're a sissy," and "She was asking for it." This game helped the students become more comfortable with expressing their opinions, and raised their awareness of the words/phrases when they later heard them in the play. After the performance, we played an activity called "snowball" in which students anonymously wrote questions/thoughts on scrap paper, crumpled them up, and tossed them towards the actors to read aloud. This activity helped us to ease into an in-depth talk-back with the students to help them process the play, as well as connect it with current events in the world.
Comments from the Strath Haven Students (ages 14-17):
"Their teaching technique was VERY effective and kept my full attention."
"The performance was spectacular and I really liked it. The discussion afterwards was informative and the discussion before was fun."
"I really, really liked this. I liked how it was entertaining while also being informative and eye-opening. I learned how gray some issues can be instead of black and white."
"WOW just incredible. I think that we shold have this amazing presentation for the whole school. Very good message. Powerful. Thank you so much."
Breaking Barriers was approved fiscal sponsorship by Fractured Atlas (the country's largest arts fiscal sponsor). Click here to donate!
For further questions, or to have Breaking Barriers visit your school, contact me here!