Something Collective artists Maggie Winston, puppeteer, and Laura Barron, musician and writer, spent this fall working with students, at three South Vancouver schools (Moberly, Henderson, and Trudeau Elementary). Then, these youth explored the concept of trash in their world and in their minds, through the creation of a narrative that they staged in December, using puppets and instruments they made from trash. And now, Maggie and Laura will share their work with students in Ramana’s Garden School in Rishikesh, India as well as Child Haven’s Montessori school and orphange in Kathmandu. Finally, throughout the process, these Asian and Canadian youth are communicating about their experiences, as pen pals, and building empathy for the environmental and social realities, commonalities and differences between their cultures.
Through brainstorms about hurtful language that we sometimes use, even when we don’t mean to, these students created Trash Talk Raps that they eventually transformed into Yes Songs. “Get Lost – Shut up – You’re not my friend” chants evolved into more generous alternative lyrics like “Peace, Marvelous, Cool Dude.” And “Dumb-Loser-Fatty-Shorty” became “You’re So Thoughtful, You’re So Funny, You’re So Loyal, You’re So Lovely.” These songs were accompanied by homemade instruments constructed by the students from reclaimed materials like bottles, boxes, plastic containers, and tin cans.
Additionally, students wrote their own skits, demonstrating trash behavior, and then they resolved these interpersonal conflicts with theatrical interventions by puppets that they made from paper plates and newspaper.
The inventiveness of the students in Dana Soga, Joan Jung and Laura Atkinson’s Grade 5 classes was truly inspiring. And now the artists can’t wait to see what their peers in India and Nepal come up with.