Youth and adult teams from youth led programs around the state of Connecticut recently came together at Neighborhood Studios in Bridgeport for an intensive weekend-long workshop to learn how theater can be used to address lived injustices.

This transformative approach, known as Forum Theater, was facilitated by Sophie Nimmannit from Theatre of the Oppressed NYC , Caprice Taylor Mendez & Luis Luna from the Joker’s League in New Haven.

The participating youth-adult teams were representing Writer’s Block in New London, Neighborhood Studios in Bridgeport, Solar Youth and People’s Arts Collective, both from New Haven. The skits they wrote and performed addressed injustices that young people have experienced firsthand including sexual discrimination in the workplace, gender stereotyping for first generation, college bound youth and the issue of unsupported youth who are often brushed aside in an adultist world. According to Katie from Solar Youth, “We were pushed outside our box; we had great conversations about our lives and how these experiences impact us as individuals and as a community; not always in a good way.” According to Sophie, Forum Theater is an interactive approach. “We can often change the story by examining alternative ways to handle difficult situations.” The audience becomes actors in this process stepping up on stage to offer new scenarios that alter the skit for a positive outcome.

The Perrin Family Foundation would like to thank Forum Theater facilitators, Neighborhood Studios for hosting the weekend long workshop and Megan Fountain from New Haven Leon Sister City Project for coordinating the event. The feedback from the youth was very positive and they hope to do more Forum Theater activities in the future. They all enthusiastically agree that the arts are a fun and engaging way to dig into life’s real and difficult situations. It creates a unique space where youth can engage in deeper conversations about oppression and develop critical thinking skills.

Next up is the performance by PFF Grantee partner, Creative Youth Productions. Mark your calendar for Thursday, February 26 at 6:30 or Friday, February 27th at 7:00 for an original black history show called Chasing Freedom. Written and performed by youth at Housatonic Community College, Room A103, 900 Lafayette Blvd. Bridgeport. Suggested donation is $10 per person.