Featuring an exploration of and training about what it means to be a bystander/upstander, the Network brought the Urban Improv troupe to the Winchester Youth Center on Sunday afternoon, March 5, at the Winchester Youth Center. Over 40 young people from the Winchester Youth Center, Connect and Commit, and faith community youth groups came together to learn how to support a person in a vulnerable situation.
A fast-paced and tricky game of “Simon Says” warmed up the attentive participants. Creating four scenarios—an aggressive arrest by a plain-clothed police officer; a scene of sexual harassment in a school hallway; fear-filled comments about terrorists unthinkingly expressed in the presence of a Muslim classmate; and an over-stressed high school essay writer—the troupe froze each scenario midway and then invited someone from the audience to enter the scene to intervene, to stand up. One person commented that he “never really knew what to do and now was learning strategies.” Then the audience divided into four groups, each led by an Urban Improv actor. Intense, engaged conversations about the scenarios involved the newly shuffled groupings. Another person said these open conversations were “the best part of the afternoon.” The finale was an improv scene/living sculpture capturing the essence of each conversation.
This program was sponsored by the Winchester Multicultural Network and was supported in part by a grant from the Winchester Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.