March is upon us! While we are all hanging on for spring right around the corner, we may just have to hold on a little longer! To hold you over, check out this month’s blog, which focuses on a groundbreaking project created by our very own co-chair, Jared O’Roark.
Project Shattered Silence
When I lived in Tampa Bay, I worked at a performing arts center called Ruth Eckerd Hall. In 2010 I was given the green light to create my own theatrical. This led to the program I created called Project Shattered Silence.
The basic premise of this project was that teenagers would tell their stories, openly and safely to each other, without fear of judgment. The words they spoke would then be taken and morphed into an original theatrical piece - a piece which the teens, themselves, would speak in front of an audience. They would tell their truth, and no topic was off limits, such as having red hair, abortion, eating disorders, loving humor, rape, etc. Topics both funny and serious. To this day, this project remains one of the most important parts of my life.
Through this project I learned that theater can heal, but only if we listen first. Not listen as others do, with the hope to get to respond, but truly listen to the words that someone is saying. That is how you heal yourself and those to whom you speak.
In year four of this project, it had gotten so popular around the Tampa Bay area, that PBS got wind of it and asked if they could do a documentary and also a news story on the project. Those films went on to win the Emmy Award, 45 film festival awards, and several humanitarian awards.
I could tell you about how powerful this project was to me, and how those kids moved me, but sometimes pictures speak louder than words. So please, take a look at the documentary. I hope it encourages you to not only tell your story, but to listen closely to those who need to tell their own.