Artistic Director, Nikki Shaffeeullah, discusses AMY 2015

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2015 is only a few months in and it has already been a transformative year for The AMY Project. I was thrilled to join the team in January as the new Artistic Director, and to meet spring session directors Mumbi Tindyebwa and Sarah Kitz, also in their first year with the AMY family. Along with assistant director Amanda Nicholls, we have been working with the AMY 2014-2015 cohort – an energetic, curious, dynamic group of young women.

Our journey so far has significantly engaged with group process. Certainly, process has always been a central focus for AMY, with mentorship and community-building as part of our core values. But this year, both the leadership and the group’s own attention to the group’s has been so significant, so interesting, that process itself is become a part of the content of our emerging new play. Specifically, as Mumbi and Sarah have guided the group through movement-based and writing exercises exploring personal stories, we have made discoveries about the ways women let ourselves – and don’t let ourselves – imagine. The group has been eager to create art about gender-based themes, such as body image, beauty standards, sexual orientation, and family structures, while also noticing the process through which they examine those themes – often characterized by uncertainty, questions, and distinctly female politeness.  And so, The AMY Project’s emerging show explores the relationship between gender norms and the development of imagination.

These young artists are asking: what moments in our lives have nurtured our imaginations? What moments in our lives and forces in society stunt our imagination? And how can and do we reignite imagination? How can we revolutionize the female imagination?

Our 2015 show is called Aperture, and explores the lens through which young women are viewed and view themselves. In it, the youth ask bold and forward-thinking questions of themselves, each other, and the audience. Artistically, the AMY leadership is guiding the group in exploring non-traditional staging techniques. Pedagogically, we are exploring how a group can support and encourage each other to engage in healthy creative conflict in order to grow, both individually and collectively. As co-director Sarah Kitz says, “I’m encouraged by the generosity of these young women. How they have decided to trust and support each other’s individual voices. What makes me most excited is their willingness to be pushed into bolder territory. They are ready for it.”

Thank you for continued support of and interest in the AMY Project. We look forward to seeing you at our spring workshop presentation.

-Nikki Shaffeeullah

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Session co-directors: Mumbi Tindyebwa & Sarah Kitz; Artistic Director Nikki Shaffeeullah