Theatre Workshops with Children in Rio and Salvador, Brazil, a post by Violet Kelly-Andrews

23 Jun

Oi gente! My name is Violet Kelly-Andrews and I am a recently graduated student of the University of Michigan (woo!). I majored in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Performing Arts Management and minors in Community Action and Social Change and History. I have worked with PCAP doing workshops in a detention center and forensic psychiatric center and this past year recently worked in in the PCAP office doing an arts administration independent study. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with this organization and was thrilled I was able to go to Brazil yet again.Violet 3

Two years ago when I first came to Brazil I went to a workshop in a community center in Rio that completed changed my thoughts on theatre and my privilege as an American theatre student (see my last blog from 2016). That was two years ago when I never thought I would find myself back in Brazil continuing to this work. As it would happen, I returned to Brazil and was able to attend the same workshop I had been to two years prior. Every time I go I am shown more compassion and love than I knew existed. It sounds cheesy, but it is true. All we do in the workshop is play games, but we get to a deeper truth of the impact of love, care, and affection. An example of this was the gift exchange we did. After the first workshop, we picked names out a hat so that we would give a gift to them the following week. I was lucky enough to pick an old friend. I had met this boy the first time I came, and we had gotten to know each other well and, even despite the language barrier, shared many laughs. This year, I walked into the workshop, and the first person I saw was the same boy. Although I do not know if I should call him a boy. I think he would prefer “young man” because now he is a big shot 17 year-old. Still, he was exactly as I remembered yet entirely different. I racked my brain what to give him and decided that I would give him my PCAP t-shirt and a letter. The gift exchange was so important for them not because of the physical gift but the thought behind it. The gift I was given was the best gift of them all: love. I was swarmed with hugs and kisses from all the kids so by the end of this workshop. I felt so full of love and gratitude. It made it sad to leave knowing that this would be my last workshop with such amazing kids in Brazil – or so I thought. Little did I know I found myself in a workshop a week later with more kids in Salvador, Bahia.Violet 2

The group trip had ended but I wanted to fly to Salvador to see the town and spend more time in a different part of Brazil. I was only there for three nights, but on my first night in Brazil I made friends with two women who told me of a social project happening at a community center in Salvador. The two had been before and knew the woman who ran the center. Feeling like this was fate, I asked if they could arrange a workshop in which I would come and lead theatre games. They agreed, and two days later, on my last full day in Brazil I found myself with my two new friends in a blue room full of kids ages 10-19 doing theatre. The kids showed so much appreciation and care to people they had never met. I spoke in broken Portuguese, but really we didn’t need words to have fun and get to know each other. At the end of the workshop I told them this was my last workshop of my trip in Brazil and how grateful I was to meet them. The kids responded in only a way kids would; they all ran to me and hugged me to thank me for spending my time with them. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have been shown such love in two cities in Brazil.Violet 1

I leave Brazil with the two lessons both which these kids taught me. One. It is easy to love. All people in Brazil show a kindness that the rest of the world could use. This is particularly important in theatre and in the work I do. As Brazilian theatre artist, Augosto Boal says, “Empathy is the most powerful weapon.” Without empathy, there is much room for change or growth. Professor Lucas said something very similar about the work we do in prisons, “Joy is the biggest contraband.” Knowing that, the second lesson is knowing you are not a savior. This was something we touched upon while in a class at UniRio about understanding power dynamics. Coming to Brazil to partake in theatre workshops with kids does not mean you are saving them. As a person of this work, one has to go in not seeking anything other than to make human connection. I share my experiences of working in theatre workshops with kids with a sense of fulfillment and pride, but I was not there to change their lives. This work is all about sincerely giving the most of yourself to others.

As I move on in my arts career, I will take these lessons; the empathy, the joy, the love, the awareness and use it as I hopefully continue to work with kids. I am always grateful to the country and people of Brazil for continuing to nurture my growth and remind me of why I do this work. And this time, I won’t be so foolish to think that I won’t return soon.

Until next time Brazil!

Beijos,

Violet

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2 Responses to “Theatre Workshops with Children in Rio and Salvador, Brazil, a post by Violet Kelly-Andrews”

  1. Rayanne Marques July 2, 2018 at 5:39 am #

    That’s so beautiful! Was nice to meet you and see you again! Thanks for the amazing visit! I to hope to you back!

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  1. Mais uma visita de amigxs da Universidade de Michigan! – Programa Teatro em Comunidades - July 2, 2018

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