The Shoe Project

Im­mi­grant women to share sto­ries

The Casket - - Local - COREY LEBLANC coreyle­blanc@the­cas­

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

Corey Leblanc

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.

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