The objective of this residency is to introduce teens to performance art as a creative tool for self-expression and self-empowerment. The project aims to cultivate the voices of young Americans and offer theater arts programs to marginalized youth who may have creative desires, but no access to the arts. The young participants are guided through an intensive process of creating an original ensemble performance art piece based on their personal experiences.
The project is realized over a period of three-weeks or more in which director Jose Torres Tama conducts a series of interactive workshops, lasting three to four hours a day. The workshops have a literary and theatrical component as the participants develop skills in writing monologues, spoken word poems and ensemble vignettes while being introduced to drama and theatre techniques, and performance art strategies that include movement and conceptual activities.
The participants are encouraged to "tell their story" while exploring the effects of media on their lives and the mythology of the "American Dream." In a spirit of collaboration, the artist provides an environment in which the creative process is inclusive and organic. The students are treated as young artists and are expected to contribute ideas and become an integral part of the work-in-progress---not just actors performing roles. The residency culminates in an hour-long ensemble performance piece to be presented at a community center or at a theater space within the hosting site.
Recent Youth Performance Projects have been developed at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM; The Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, LA; Out North Contemporary Art House in Anchorage, AK;Tigertail Productions in Miami, FL; The Center for Art and Cultural Healing in Brooklyn, NY; MECA in Houston, TX; The Walker’s Point Center for the Arts in Milwaukee, WI; and the Center for Cultural Exchange in Portland, ME. These projects have been developed with the support of the National Performance Network, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Philip Morris Foundation.