Act Like a GRRRL (ALAG) is an autobiographical writing and performance program that inspires girls (ages 12-18) to write about their lives and transform their thoughts into monologues, dances and songs for public performance.
As GRRRLS find their voice and speak their truths on stage, they develop the self-confidence and leadership skills to live more empowered lives.
ALAG invites teenage girls to explode the box in which our society wants to limit them. At the very moment our culture is asking girls to “sit down and shut up,” ALAG says, “stand up and speak out.”
During the program, the grrrls explore their innermost selves and are introduced to strong adult women who model the power of living authentic lives and pursuing your dreams.
WHO CAN APPLY
Teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 18 who love to write, are interested in self-discovery and want to change the world for the better. GRRRLS must be available to attend the full program (no drop-ins) and have a deep interest in the process. Beyond that, applicants are accept on a first-come basis.
There are a few need-based scholarships available; so, don’t let money be an obstacle if you’re interested!
WHEN/WHERE WE DO IT
In 2015, We are excited to report that ALAG Nashville is transforming into a 2 week intensive model, June 13-26.
Week One is a stay-away camp that begins Saturday, June 13 and ends Friday, June 19, at Golden Wings Retreat Center in Bon Aqua, TN.
Week Two is daily rehearsals, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, June 22-26, at Belmont Black Box Theater.
Performances are June 25-26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Belmont Black Box Theater.
HOW MUCH IS IT
Tuition for the full program is $1250. A few need-based scholarships are available.
Tickets to the final performance are $15.
WHAT WE DO
At ALAG, you’ll learn important life skills like team building, negotiation, compromise and leadership in addition to enhancing the your writing, dancing, acting and singing talents.
Over the course of the program, the group will:
- Write over 20 narratives, working with mentors to edit and clarify their thinking and descriptive ability.
- Dance at least 90 minutes/day, learning new forms of movement and deepening their connection to their bodies and exercise as an ongoing practice.
- Sing for 30 minutes/day, coming together as a collective to create harmonies and melodies to express their feelings.
- Create an original script based on their writings, dances and songs.
- Stage and perform their original script before a public audience for two performances.
As Vali explains,
“There is great power in creating something from nothing. We begin with a blank page. At the end of the process, we have scripted and performed a new theatrical work. In the process, the grrrls learn their power to co-create their reality and transform from the girl they used to be to the ‘grrrl’ they want to be.”
WHY THE EXTRA Rs
We chose the name “Act Like a GRRRL” to reclaim language that is often used as an insult. We weren’t going to be acting like G-I-R-L-S. In our culture, it’s never a compliment to be told you do anything “like a girl.” But a GRRRL is something entirely different. It’s a fresh word that allows each individual to define what those “extra Rs” mean for her. See some of the Nashville grrrls’ definitions.
HOW IT WORKS
The Act Like a GRRRL Model is based on Vali’s graduate work in the performance of personal narratives for personal and social change. By bringing together young women from diverse backgrounds who otherwise would not have met, ALAG becomes an incubator for radical personal growth. Vali developed a three-step process of scripting, sharing and performing that has been successfully used with teenage girls, adult women, incarcerated women and a multicultural collection of teenage girls in Bolivia.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
Act Like a GRRRL intervenes in a teenage girl’s life at a time when she is getting cultural messages to become more passive. Research shows that adolescent girls are encouraged to be silent, to conform and become invisible. At the precise moment that people are asking her to “sit down and shut up,” ALAG invites her to stand up and speak out. As cultural anthropologist Sherry Ortner explains: “In adolescence, girls begin to deny what they know to be true from their experiences in order to maintain their relationships and function in the world.”
“Scripting and performing one’s own life story in this climate of silence, conformity, invisibility is a rite of passage experience. To stand in the spotlight saying: “This is who I am. This is what I believe. This is what I worry about. This is what I dream of…” is an act of great courage and personal agency,” says Vali.
Act Like a GRRRL capitalizes on the rapid changes in the adolescent brain. Recent research in neuroscience explains that adolescents’ brains work differently from those of younger children or adults: it is built for risk-taking, low impulse control and heightened emotional reactivity. These factors often combine to create behaviors that increase their likelihood of death or illness such as unsafe sex, dangerous driving, alcohol and drug experimentation and self-mutilation practices.
But, researchers point out that positive risk-taking is necessary for adolescents to fulfill their universal need for independence, developing a separate identity, and testing authority. ALAG as a great example of positive risk-taking activity because it is a rigorous and demanding program that involves public speaking and performance (around which most people have substantial fears).
Act Like a GRRRL gets powerful results. To date, participants report:
- 0 drug use
- 0 pregnancies
- 0 truancy
Plus a significant increase in:
- Self respect
- Trust of other grrrls
- Improved relationships with family and friends
- Intolerance for bullying
- Academic excellence
- Hope for the future
- 100% of ALAG graduates have gone on to college.
“Act Like A GRRRL helped me realize I don’t have to follow in the footsteps of past generations, I don’t have to focus on the bad moments that have happened in my life. I can set and achieve my own goals, be the shining being I’m supposed to be, and most importantly have tremendous faith in myself.” — Jenna, age 18
” Act Like A GRRRL is the group you thought didn’t exist. The one that you could only dream of having.” — Augusta, age 18
” Act Like A GRRRL is probably the best thing to happen to me. It opens up so many opportunities that I probably would never have imagined possible. It helps me to embrace how brightly I shine. It reminds me daily that I can do whatever I set my mind to. Act Like A GRRRL changes lives. It sure did change mine.” — Chelsey, age 19
“Act Like a Grrrl is an intention to build a community where there are no judgements, and where we seek to break the stereotypes of girls being negative toward one another. Without ALAG, I wouldn’t be as brave or accepting as I learned to be and I wouldn’t have chosen the career path that I did. Every young woman who seeks to better herself and her community should be a part of this group.” — Kamilah, age 23, graduate of Tennessee State University
“ALAG inspires you to reach beyond the boundaries you didn’t realized you had imposed on yourself. You can take charge of your life and allow your fullest ambitions to be realized. ALAG instilled in me a spirit to “prove them wrong,” and go after typically male-dominated studies and professions, specifically in astrophysics, optics, and philosophy. I feel smarter and more capable now than I ever thought I could be.” — Haviland, age 24, graduate of Agnes Scott College, pursuing a PhD in atmospheric science at Georgia Tech.