WAM continues its work and support of Girls, Inc. of Pittsfield. The after school program works with young women aged 8-12 to create an original piece of theatre that explores issues of importance in their lives. The next performance sharing will take place on May 27.
Interview by Rachel Louchen
Barby Cardillo has been a teaching artist since 1992. She started at Shakespeare & Company and has worked with many other area theaters. She has been involved with WAM since 2011 when she acted in a production and was impressed with the company’s mission to support women, which is very much in line with her own personal beliefs. In the fall of 2013, she started working with Girls Inc. to create an original theatre piece each semester with Girls Inc participants. Passionate about theater and empowering young women, she relished the opportunity to continue with the program for a second semester. Barby spends the sessions teaching and acting with the students as well as creating art projects, singing opportunities and writing, all material that is used to create the final piece. On the eve of her last session for this semester on May 27, Barby talks about her important work with the girls and shares how much they continually inspire her.
What do you do and why are you passionate about it?
I am an actress and a social worker. I love combining both my passions by creating and teaching workshops for populations that may not readily have the opportunity to be involved in theatre. I work with people with developmental disabilities, the elderly, teens in treatment facilities and adjudicated youth, as well as after school programs. When I was a teen, being in the drama club helped me deal with the challenges at home, and gave me a place to express my creativity while being a part of a community. I want to give that experience to other people.
What do you enjoy about working at Girls Inc? And with WAM?
I love working with WAM because I know how vital the arts are to the human spirit. The mission of the company is in line with the reason I am a teaching artist: to change the world through theatre. Being at Girls Inc. is particularly fun because the girls haven’t put up any guards yet and are free spirits with lots of ideas to express. I feel privileged to be the person who gets to take those ideas and help them shape it theatrically.
What have you noticed in the girls since starting to work with WAM?
I’m so pleased that we got to come back to Girl’s Inc. after Christmas. The girls had real momentum after their first “sharing” experience and it has paid off in the sense that they continue to work on listening skills and creating together in a generous way. I have noticed they have more confidence not just on stage but in terms of sharing their ideas in the group.
What woman inspires you?
I worked at a residential facility with girls who suffered many traumas, emotionally, sexually, developmentally. Those girls inspire me. What they went through and how they have healed inspires me. My sister has brain damage and struggles so much because of it but still keeps everyone laughing. Women who have real integrity and use their gifts to help make the world a better place inspire me. Like Kristen van Ginhoven and Oprah. And there are so many amazing women (too numerous to mention) living in Berkshire County who inspire me with their art and generosity every day. If you think you are one of them, you are probably right.