A troupe of teen actresses telling their stories through writing and performance

Welcome to the Girls Surviving blog. We are creating this blog to reflect on the process we use in our work with teenage girls. We are two artists, Paula and Carolyn, who have been teaching writing, theater, and storytelling for many years. We are also mothers of daughters who had a hard time navigating their teens. We believe they would have benefited from a program that provided them with a safe place to talk about what it's like to be a teenage girl and to discover their unique artistic voices. Seven years ago, we began to form a troupe of teen girls who, we thought, could write and perform plays based on the experiences that inform their lives. Since then, we've watched the girls in the Girls Surviving troupe begin to take control of their lives with self-confidence and courage. We are writing to parents, teachers, counselors, and other artists who interact with girls in the hope that this blog will raise awareness of and open conversations about the lives of girls who are growing up in our complicated times.

“I have lived a very hectic life. I would consider myself as not a survivor but as a girl surviving.”

Professional Development Resources

Notes and slides from professional development workshop taught at the New Jersey Education Association conference on November 7, 2013.

Warm up activity: Each girl writes a question about something that is on her mind. The questions, which remain anonymous are put into a hat. Questions are pulled and discussed. Ideas from these discussions often provide material for writing. The discussions also facilitate bonding between troupe members. 

Improvisational acting games and exercises help writers create characters and situations. 

When the girls have ideas for characters and scenes, they begin to write.

Individual writing is reformatted by teaching artists into typed transcriptions which are copied and shared with all troupe members. Girls reread each other's work and make decisions about which pieces they want to use in their script.

 Here is an example from collaborative script. Each text color represents an individual writer. 

 Here is a summary of the Girls Surviving process.

Performances are followed by "talk back" sessions between the actresses and their audiences.

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