Act Like A GRRRL Fall Break Intensive
**there will not be an ALAG Spring Break Intensive in 2016.**
We are collaborating with Conexion Americas to create an ALAG Intensive for Latina teenage girls during Fall Break, 2016.
Check back here for details in July!
Act Like A GRRRL (ALAG) is an autobiographical writing and performance program for teenage girls to develop self-identity, articulate values and gain public voice while working with female mentors and peers from diverse backgrounds.
We form an intentional community where girls from varying schools, neighborhoods, cultures, faiths and socio-economic backgrounds come together to support each other in the process of self-discovery.
We write about our lives, learning to critically and compassionately examine beliefs, values and goals while holding each other accountable to the values associated with independence and empowerment.
WHO LEADS IT?
ALAG’s Fall Break Intensive will be led by founder Vali Forrister, long-time co-leader Gabrielle Saliba and other artists from the community. Vali is the artistic director of Actors Bridge Ensemble and Gabrielle is the director of dance at Global Education Center.
WHO CAN APPLY?
Girls between the ages of 12 and 17 who love to write, are interested in self-discovery and want to change the world for the better. You must be available to attend the full program (no drop-ins) and have a deep interest in the process. Beyond that, applicants are accepted on a first-come basis.
The Spring Break Intensive is open to new and returning GRRRLS but is limited to no more than 10 participants.
WHAT HAPPENS AT ALAG?
At ALAG, you’ll enhance the your writing, dancing, acting and singing talents AND learn important life skills like team building, negotiation, compromise and leadership.
Over the course of the week-long intensive, the group will:
write 5-10 personal narratives, working with mentors to edit and clarify their thinking and descriptive ability.
dance every 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 the original script before a public audience for a performance on Saturday, March 28.
form a sisterhood of support that will last long after the week is over.
As Vali explains, “We discover the power of creating something from nothing. We begin every year 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 create their own reality and transform from the girl they used to be to the ‘grrrl’ they want to be.”
WHEN/WHERE WE DO IT
WHY AN INTENSIVE?
We have created the ALAG Intensive to offer an empowering opportunity for GRRRLS who do not have other plans for their Spring Break. It gives us a chance to introduce ALAG to new GRRRLS who are interested in enrolling in the summer program and to reconnect with returning GRRRLS, providing them the chance to deepen their writing and increase their stage presence during the school year.
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: http://grrrlblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/what-is-a-g-r-r-r-l/.
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 dangerous driving, unsafe sex, 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) and includes the possibility of failure.