Tag Archive for AHA! projects

The Shoe Project Antigonish: Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories

The Shoe Project Antigonish
Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories

Press Release      Antigonish—January 16, 2019

Something amazing is afoot in Antigonish! Immigrant women are telling their stories and letting us walk a mile in their shoes. This group of women, led by Anne Simpson and Laura Teasdale, are joining in a movement that is sweeping across Canada, called The Shoe Project. But what is it?

Initiated by novelist Katherine Govier, the Shoe Project began in Toronto as a way to assist immigrant women in telling their stories. It started with Katherine facilitating ten-week writing workshops followed by a drama expert organizing and leading the women in a performance at the Bata Shoe Museum. Since then, immigrant women across Canada – from Vancouver to Halifax – have been involved in Shoe Projects in their communities, with professional writers and drama specialists helping to bring the stories to the stage.

The Shoe Project Antigonish, funded by the Shoe Project and Nova Scotia’s Culture Innovation Fund, marks the first time the project has been offered in a small, rural community, yet immigrant women have inspiring stories to tell here, too. Locally sponsored by Arts Health Antigonish, in partnership with Theatre Antigonish and Antigonish County Adult Learning Association, The Shoe Project Antigonish began with a small group of women who came together for writing workshops with Simpson throughout the fall of 2018 and it will culminate in a performance at the Bauer Theatre on February 8 & 9, 2019.

When asked about the impact of the project, local coordinator and writing facilitator Simpson says, “When I went to see the Shoe Project performance in Fredericton last spring, I watched, entranced, as the women told their stories. I knew it could be done in Antigonish. It has been great: AHA! has been a wonderful sponsor and ACALA has been supportive from the beginning. We also have a theatre that brings really good community projects to the stage—Theatre Antigonish. Most of all, at the heart of this project is a group of women who wanted to explore their own stories. They’ve told me they don’t want it to end.”

It was not easy to find people brave enough to want to write and present their stories in front of an audience, but with much help from Jyotsna Jain at ACALA, a perfect group was formed. Diverse in age, experience, and native land, they were united in their trust of Simpson, a writer herself. Together they explored their voice and style of writing, while having fun and really supporting each other. The resulting stories to be presented on the Theatre Antigonish stage are touching, wise, funny and smart. Their immigration is a central theme, and each chose a pair of shoes as a jumping off point in their writing, but that is where the similarities end. The narratives are as diverse as this group of women.

To highlight the stories of these fascinating women, Laura Teasdale was brought on board as a theatre consultant. She was tasked with putting the stories together in a creative way and coaching the participants in feeling comfortable on stage and allowing their personality to shine through. Thanks to partners at Theatre Antigonish, the show will be a visual feast as well.

Andrea Boyd, Artistic Director for Theatre Antigonish says, “We are so happy to be able to include The Shoe Project in this year’s Theatre Antigonish season. This project is a powerful symbol of what community theatre is all about, and it is also a wonderful chance to celebrate and embrace our rich diversity. When Anne brought this project to our attention, I knew right away that it would be the perfect fit for us. I cannot wait to watch the show and hear all the stories by these amazing women. The show is being presented free of charge, so I hope we have a packed theatre. Come early to get your seat – It will be worth it!”

Teasdale adds, “The women range in age from 25 to 75 and hail from India, South Korea, Germany, Spain, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Netherlands. These eight women have a unique perspective on life in Canada and why they love to call it home.” The participants are Karen Bissonnette, Renée Romero Brown, Willie Duykers, Almudena Garcia-Garcia, Anu Joshi, Jyotsna Jain, Soo Kyeong Lee, and Yen Ngoc Nguyen. And as a special treat, Simpson also engaged dancer and choreographer Liliona Quarmyne, whose dance will be her way of telling her own story of immigration from Ghana.

Yen Ngoc Nguyen, one of the participants, points out, “The project has given me an opportunity to pause, look back and re-think my whole journey to Canada. It serves as a point of reflection, enabling me to appreciate more of my effort, my growth, and my appreciation for the beauty of living in this country. I treasure the time I spent with other immigrants in this project as it has widened my understanding and perspective.”

The Shoe Project Antigonish takes place on Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9 at 7:30 pm at the Bauer Theatre. Admission is free. The line up will begin at 6:30, doors open at 7. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis. For information call (902) 867-3333 or email tickets@stfx.ca.

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Project Update Meeting

We would like to say a huge thank you to all who came out to the Project Update Meeting on March 7, 2014to learn about and celebrate AHA!

Starting the day with song a led by Mary Beth Carty, we then enjoyed sharing the progress of our current programs, followed by a short time to meet and chat.

Currently, the Therapeutic Arts Programs at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital, Horticulture Therapy at RK MacDonald, Thundertales for teens supported across the county and the Art and Health Workshops have all been a success and will continue to run for the near future.

There will also be two new projects beginning; a film about art and health connections, and an arts program for elders. The Eldertree Project will be supported through RK MacDonald and Highland-Crest Home.

Our progress over the last year has been a testament to the continuing support, enthusiasm and collaboration from the community. Thank you again for all your contributions.

If you have any interest or questions concerning our current programs or future projects, please feel free to contact the Steering Team by email arthealthantigonish@gmail.com

Best Regards,

AHA! Steering Team
Art Health Antigonish

 

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