Racial discrimination was the topic chosen by Rockingham Senior High School’s Year 11 drama students, who completed a ten week long, in-school Youth Choices intensive theatre program last term.
The weeks of hard work culminated in a performance attended by City of Rockingham councillor and proud Wongutha woman Rae Cottam. As the high school’s first Aboriginal school captain, Councillor Cottam shared her own experiences of racial discrimination with the students and praised the work involved in the project.
The four carefully workshopped short stories showcased on the day highlighted how direct and indirect racism and microaggressions can present in our everyday relationships and the impact it has on the victims.
RSHS drama teacher Shelby Kazakoff said the program had made a genuine impact on the students involved.
“I’d say there has been a more mindful approach in relation to how they approach casual racism and calling out racist behaviour,” she said.
“It allowed students to navigate their own experiences and to reconcile internalised issues they didn’t realise they had.”
Youth Choices senior facilitator Kate Willoughby said while delivering the program they ensured the racially diverse students felt safe sharing their feelings, thoughts and stories, and to ask questions, learn and reflect upon themselves. In turn, the students said they felt supported by the facilitators, enjoyed the forum theatre process and learned to have more empathy and awareness.
“I’m really proud of the stories they wanted to tell,” Ms Willoughby said.
Operating twice-weekly over a 10-week term, Youth Choices intensive programs use forum theatre to focus on an issue chosen by participants. Our facilitators work with students to navigate concerns and develop coping strategies and solutions. The final performance creates a ripple effect by triggering meaningful discussion about the issue in the school and wider community.