Support Theatre Arts’ storytelling workshops for West End residents
By Niki King
UofL’s African American Theatre Program and The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage are teaming up to help people in Louisville’s West End stage their own stories.
The project, called “Telling our Tales: Plays from West Louisville,” will offer playwriting workshops to residents of the West End as a way to explore critical issues, stimulate discussion and expose others to a more nuanced view of the community. The project was one of nine arts-based projects funded this year by the Jennifer Lawrence Arts Fund and has through February to match the $10,000 grant.
“We want people to experience the strength and beauty of the community as well as the challenges and struggles,” said Nefertiti Burton, chair of the UofL Theatre Arts Department.
Playwright and poet Frank X Walker will guide as many as 20 community members aged 16 and older through a series of 10 weekly workshop sessions. The sessions are designed to help residents voice their experiences living in a neighborhood that is “struggling to overcome the images of violence, poverty and apathy that have defined it in local and regional media for decades.”
Participants will hone skills in writing, performance and production. Burton said the plan is to create 10-minute plays and stage them at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage and possibly throughout the state.
“We wanted people to have the opportunity to get their stories collected and shared in such a way that they are circulated beyond West Louisville into the broader community,” Burton said.
Burton will act as the artistic director and grad students from Theatre Arts may be tapped to help as well.
Burton said people have already expressed interest in participating.
“People often ask for our help as a department, and we’ve staged workshops before. But this is our first time doing an ongoing effort,” she said.