Using the works of William Shakespeare, The Viola Project unites and empowers girls from diverse backgrounds so they may grow up to be whoever they want to be... even Hamlet.
The Viola Project celebrates play and performance in young people while creating a foundation for young women to stand up, advocate for themselves, and demand inclusion: inclusion in the classroom, in the workspace, in the world and on the stage. Our students have the unique opportunity to examine critical issues through creative play, interdisciplinary workshops, and, of course, Shakespeare. Why? Shakespeare's characters are determined to get what they need, to be understood, to be listened to. There is no better teacher for how to use language to make your voice heard than William Shakespeare.
In addition to running summer camps, The Viola Project partners with schools and community organizations to create after school programming tailored to meet the individual needs of the girls and community we are serving.
The Viola Project welcomes all youth ages 10-16 who culturally identify as girls and women, regardless of their race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation or ability.
It is The Viola Project's mission to keep our programming accessible to all girls, no matter what their financial situation is. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line SCHOLARSHIP to inquire about available aid.
The Viola Project is partially supported by grants from the Chicago Foundation for Women, the Illinois Arts Council Agency through federal funds, a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, The Arbonne Foundation, The Young Leaders Fund of The Chicago Community Trust, and the American Association of University Women.
During adolescence, young women begin the process of actively removing their voices from public discourse. In school, girls participate less, speak less, stand up for their ideas less and are faced with intense pressure to conform to societal pressures including expectations of ideal body image, negative perceptions of female leadership as well as the realities of minimal representation in mainstream narrative, income inequality and access to healthcare. It is the goal of The Viola Project to increase agency in voice in order to equip girls with the tools to advocate for their individual needs.
At The Viola Project, we believe in three core values:
Play, Empathy, and Strength.
Play is the ability to take risks, commit to actions, and follow through without fear of being “wrong.”
- Viola Girls commit with full body and voice while performing Shakespeare's texts.
- Viola Girls take risks when speaking up and learn that their opinion is always valuable no matter what others might think.
- Viola Girls know that it's okay to be silly, serious, loud, and opinionated and no one can tell them how they are "supposed to" behave just because they're girls.
Empathy is the ability to understand and be aware of others’ feelings and experiences in order to form connections.
- Viola Girls know that our classroom is not just a "Safe Space," but it's also a "Brave Space." We don't shy away from difficult conversations. We challenge our girls to view issues from multiple perspectives.
- Viola Girls support the learning and experience of other girls by recognizing both their differences and similarities.
- Viola Girls reach beyond their personal scope of the world to build bridges between herself and others, whether it be Juliet, a fellow student, or a world leader.
Strength is the ability to express what you feel, believe, and know in order to take ownership over both personal growth and that of the overall community.
- Viola Girls ask questions and challenge themselves to go beyond expectations
- Viola Girls advocate for their own needs and opinions and fight for inclusion in their personal lives as well as the entire world.
- Viola Girls know that they can Just Be. There is no question.
Most of all, we believe that Viola Girls are the future and Viola Girls can change the world.
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