CONFIDENT VOICES – PLAYWRITING PROJECT is a 12-week creative arts program for young people who stutter aged 7-18 years. The project will engage participants who stutter in theatre workshops, held at the Victorian College of the Arts Performing Arts Theatre in which they will collaborate in small groups and learn to write, direct, and act in original short plays under the guidance of Teaching Artists. Within the small groups, all participants contribute ideas and collectively decide their group’s play theme.
Participants will meet once weekly on Saturday afternoons from February 2021 to May 2021, culminating in a public performance by the participants that will impact 120 audience members, including family, friends, Speech Pathologists, and the general public. Talkbacks will follow all performances to provide a platform for participants to field questions and share their moving reflections on the creative process in relation to improving their communication skills and their artistry.
Stuttering is a common yet widely misunderstood neurological communication disability that affects more than 70 million people. In childhood, stuttering is even more common, affecting 1 in 9 Australian children; a third of these children will stutter for their entire lives.
Alongside their speech disorder, young people who stutter also struggle with cruelty, bullying, discrimination and social isolation. Feelings of shame and low self-esteem often cause fear of speaking, which can silence children and dramatically hinder their educational and professional opportunities, leading to instances of self-injury and even suicidal thoughts.
Despite this knowledge, Australian stuttering interventions focus on fluency; psychosocial effects of stuttering are not addressed, leaving children who stutter left to manage the plethora of psychological, emotional and social co-morbidities of stuttering by themselves.
Donations will be used to pay for productions costs:
– musical equipment
– costumes and props
– speakers & microphones
– video and music editing software
– recording equipment
– marketing (advertisements & show programmes)
– venue cleaning & utility bills
– office supplies
– salary for theatre engineer and programming director
The end result will be the final Showcase event of our participants’ shares (as described above, which will be video-recorded).
Also, we will be running evidence-based research throughout the program in collaboration with the University of Melbourne – the results of which will be shared via a published research article in an accredited peer-reviewed Journal database. The research will be shared with all participants and collaborators before going out to publish, with the aim of informing ongoing therapeutic practice globally for young people who stutter.