PARK SLOPE, BROOKLYN — A new workshop at one of Park Slope’s longstanding arts organizations will introduce kids to the complexities of gender identity, maybe for the first time.
But really, it may be adults in the room that walk away learning the most, organization leaders say.
The “Drag Performance Workshop” is one of three inter-generational classes that the Brooklyn Arts Exchange on Fifth Avenue will host this month, bringing together adults and children as young as 6 to explore everything from bigotry, to toxic masculinity, to gender identity.
The interactive workshops will give a creative opportunity for the kids to learn about these topics, but they can also be a way for the different generations to learn from each other, said Lucia Scheckner, BAX’s director of education and community engagement.
“Just by virtue of our name, there’s this whole culture of finding ways to connect adult artists and young artists,” Scheckner said. “The experience of watching how adults learn from children in those moments [is] so powerful and moving.”
(Provided by BAX.)
The drag workshop, first reported on in the Brooklyn Paper, will invite both generations to learn about the history of drag, experiment with costumes and props and bring out their character through songs and dance moves. Kids 8 years and older can participate in the workshop on their own and children under 8 are invited, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
The idea will not necessarily be to have kids perform as another gender, but to break down those binary genders and their stereotypes altogether, Scheckner said.
“[They’re] experimenting in the way that clothing and props and music can be powerful identifiers that are gendered,” she said. “It’s not about the simplicity of one binary and another, but what is the fluidity between that. This is about giving a palette for that experimentation.”
(Provided by BAX.)
The Nov. 7 workshop is an extension of a drag performance class that BAX has in its normal youth programming. It will be followed by a Nov. 14 inter-generational workshop called “Interrupting Bigotry” and a Nov. 21 “Boys Movement Workshop” about representations of masculinity and consent.
In each, where ages will vary from 6 and up to 8 and up, Scheckner said performing arts will be a tool for addressing topics that can be difficult or hard to do in an age-appropriate way. That difficulty, though, shouldn’t be a reason to shy away from talking about them, she added.
“However adults may or may not politicize them, children are having these experiences and these conversations,” she said. “If we can’t create healthy platforms for children to express themselves…then the gap between parents and children — grandparents and children, community members — is going to widen.”
Instead, the workshops will let kids lead the conversation and make often uncomfortable topics fun, Scheckner said.
“That’s the gift of the performing arts,” she said. “No one is sitting down and indoctrinating anyone, we’re giving young people a healthy space to express themselves…Young people have very big emotions — drag is this incredible art form of materializing big feelings.”