New Beginnings, a group of women from Hartford’s Resettlement House, and Trinity students will perform a variety of readings, dance and song on Monday, December 9 at 6:30 p.m. in Trinity Commons, Room 155. The campus community is invited, although seating is limited.
Monday’s New Beginnings performance is the culmination of the arts engagement that the students in the course, “The Arts and Special Populations” taught by Theater and Dance Professor Judy Dworin, have developed with the residents of the Resettlement House, where women who have been released from the York Correctional Institution in Niantic live until they are ready to be integrated into society. Most of the women stay, on average, about 13 months, said Dworin.
The performance, approximately 30 minutes in length, will involve 10 students and 5 women from the Resettlement House. Dworin, who over the years has been involved in many programs for and with incarcerated women, described the upcoming student-created performance, entitled Journeys, as “a deeply moving piece.”
“The women seem to enjoy it and the students have grown from it as well,” Dworin said.
In Dworin’s seminar this semester, students were required to investigate the application of the arts to special populations with a focus on the incarcerated and at-risk youth; women re-entering the community from incarceration; children and families affected by incarceration; victims of crime; and the school-to-prison pipeline.
Students also examined the role the arts play in the healing and rehabilitative process with those populations, analyzing the mission, goals, action steps, and results through research and hands-on experience. The fieldwork project with New Beginnings included readings, observation and analysis.
Through the hands-on work, the students assessed the difficulties, dilemmas and successes of arts interventions with the various populations and looked at the larger issues that the phenomenon of incarceration imposes on the fabric and function of society.
The script was written over the course of the semester by students who met every Monday at the Fred, said Anne Arnzen ’14, an anthropology major and member of Dworin’s class. A mural will be produced that will be hung in the hallway of Trinity Commons.
Arnzen said Journeys explores the notion of “what’s it like to be in my shoes?” and is a powerful way of reflecting on the women’s story. Arnzen said that despite the age differences between the students and the women, commonalities and connections emerged. “The wisdom the women were able to share was impactful on myself and on the other students,” she said.
Dworin noted that one of the benefits of the performance is that it has helped the women to affirm their strengths and believe in themselves. “I don’t think there’s another program like this.”