Third Street Theatre has created a 12 week education program for queer youth. Participants meet once a week for a period of three hours. Industry professionals lead various workshops each week aimed at mentoring participants, fostering their creativity and most importantly, providing valuable tools to nurture confidence, acceptance, and positive self-image through creative expression. It is vital to the program that all participants are treated with respect, but perhaps even more importantly, treated as serious artists, no matter their experience. Confidence and personal investment will thrive if the participants understand that they are being treated as professionals, not as strictly teens. With this perspective in mind, Third Street Theatre will contact and arrange for professional artists from the Calgary community to conduct workshops on a wide variety of disciplines. From professional playwrights and writing workshops to collective creation, voice, puppetry, Theatre of the Oppressed, and improvisation, participants will learn and work with some of Calgary’s most engaging and dynamic artists, gaining a wide variety of experience and marketable skills.
The work created in the program culminates in a one day festival sponsored by Third Street Theatre and One Yellow Rabbit in May of 2016. During the festival, professional actors and directors from the Calgary theatre community stage the readings of the participant’s plays for the public. By tapping into the Calgary professional arts community, we hope to raise our city’s consciousness to the issues of queer youth, and give much needed credence to the stories and experiences that these teens have lived, witnessed, and felt within our city. Admission will be by donation only, as we want to enable as many people to see the performance as possible – particularly other youth.
Who Will it Benefit?
Over the course of fourteen weeks from February to May, 2016, Third Street Theatre Artistic Associates, with the support of One Yellow Rabbit, will facilitate a playwriting program for queer teens. We define “teen” as young people between the ages of thirteen to twenty. Our goal with this project is to create and foster a sense of community for queer youth, as well as serving as a conduit for creative enrichment and educational skills through a series of writing and creative workshops.
Queer teens are a highly marginalized demographic. The “teen” years are a pivotal period of growth, independence, and key development. This period of time demands support, love, and guidance. Yet queer youth are more than twice as likely to be rejected by their families than their heterosexual peers, resulting in homelessness, drug addiction, bullying, depression, and suicide. There is little to no programming for this demographic of children; they are too often kept silent, or worse, become fatal newspaper headlines. Third Street Theatre, with the help of Calgary’s Outlink and One Yellow Rabbit, are hoping to help fill a void and create a positive, safe, and challenging program aimed at assisting queer teens in taking agency over themselves and their stories.
Moreover, YOUth Riot impacts the greater Calgary community. By showcasing the stories and artistry of Queer youth, we not only minimize the marginality of our teens, but also increase the awareness of the public to LGBTQ* issues. By hiring professional artists in Calgary, YOUth Riot also elevates the arts community\'s compassion toward an important minority group within our city, giving them face-to-face interactions with the real issues and experiences of queer identified youth.