The Shoe Project
Immigrant women to share stories
The Shoe Project is coming to Antigonish.
Launched in Toronto six years ago, by novelist Katherine Govier, the writing and performance workshop provides immigrant women with an opportunity to tell their stories.
“I thought we could do it here [Antigonish],” writer Anne Simpson said of the initiative, which has made its way to several locations across Canada.
Simpson and actor/playwright Laura Teasdale will combine their expertise to help guide participants through the 10-week process.
Veteran Canadian writers and theatre professionals are a key to the success of The Shoe Project.
“It is fitting to use that kind of image,” Simpson said of the name, noting the ‘shoe’ as a symbol of “the journey,” along with “arrival and departure.”
After participants write their stories with Simpson, they will work with Teasdale, learning techniques of drama to prepare their pieces for the stage.
The immigrant women will share their stories during the annual Theatre Antigonish Oneact Play Festival, which will take place in early 2019.
“It is exciting – helping these women tell really grown up stories of their lives,” Teasdale said, when asked about her participation in the project.
She noted she is focussed on striking a balance – helping participants feel less nervous, rather than overwhelmed by having to take the stage.
“We can take advantage of that,” Teasdale said of the opportunity to provide them with access to Theatre Antigonish – its people and its resources.
The group will be get together once-a-week for 10 weeks – to write and revise their stories before moving to the Bauer to implement the theatrical elements.
Although there are guidelines for offering The Shoe Project, Simpson and Teasdale said they want to widen its scope, including adding components such as music and dance.
“We want to push the boundaries of what has been done already,” Simpson said.
The local project is receiving support, locally, from Arts Health Antigonish, Antigonish County Adult Learning Association (ACALA) ACALA and Theatre Antigonish.
“We have been getting people, we have been losing people,” Simpson said, noting Jyostna Jain of ACALA has been spearheading that process.
She noted two young Syrian women decided to drop out, because they did not want to share their stories on stage.
“We need to hear these stories in Antigonish,” Simpson said.
She added the women have experienced “powerful journeys to come here.”
“It helps us appreciate where we are,” Teasdale said, in reflecting on one way in which our community can benefit from the process.
If someone would like to participate in The Shoe Project, drop by People’s Place Library or ACALA and leave your name.
For more information about the national initiative, visit theshoeproject.online
Anne Simpson (left) and Laura Teasdale go over plans for the recently launched The Shoe Project, a project where immigrant women will write and perform their stories.