March 27, 2023: The Arlington County Detention Facility (ACDF) is another place we haven’t been too in the last few years (yep, COVID again) and we just couldn’t wait to begin with them this year. We kicked off our series with about 15 men in the Community Readiness Unit (CRU) – a competitive program for those about to be released. We have worked with the CRU before and they are always so excited and eager for our classes!
After a 5-week creative writing program, we began improvisation in March. Improv is always a hit in detention centers, and there’s no one better than our Keely Kirk to lead the way. In fact, this month she’s teaching improvisation at Friends of Guest House, the Arlington County Detention Center, and virtually at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center in Winchester, Virginia.
How’s it going? Fabulously! Here’s a mashup of Keely’s after-class emails at the ACDF:
“All of the gentlemen participated. They had a great time and many of them said they can’t wait to see me next week. I had another thousand percent class – no other way to put it. They love their improv and what I’m bringing them. They’re so attentive and so into it and so engaged and everyone’s participating, even the quiet ones. They leave the class in a much different mood….Each week I review what we’ve been learning and they’re not only telling me what we’ve been learning, they’re also putting it into use so it’s really great!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so we’re posting a few photos from the men’s CRU class in Arlington and the women’s class in Winchester:
What fun we had on Saturday, June 4, 2022, when we were asked to offer an improvisation class with the City of Alexandria’s PRIDE celebration at the Charles Houston Recreation Center! It’s always fun to watch the shy ones slowly yet confidently move from watching to fully participating in just an hour! We laughed and moved and shared and got to be ourselves, free and proud!
It’s April, 2022, and our Fun Friday improvisation session is almost over with the Casa Chirilagua kids. Wait, that’s “almost” over! What do you do when you have a few minutes left and the kids have soooo much energy to spare? You help them build a tree, of course! One kid is the tree, and what do you want to add to it? Then add on to that? And then…and then…. take a look how our improvisation teacher Keely Kirk gets their imagination going on a Friday afternoon!
It’s hard to capture the power of improvisation with one photo (especially if the photographer is me) but this is what we have. Despite the air conditioning giving out in 95 degree heat, our improvisation teacher led 10 really cute little kids through an hour (!) of improv scenarios at Casa Chirilagua. Many Latino families live in this part of Alexandria, and this area (called “Arlandria” since it borders Arlington) was hit hard by the ravages of COVID-19. The disease, job loss, income loss, food insecurity, struggles with at-home schooling, etc., all showed up in force in Arlandria, and the Alexandria community as a whole really focused their efforts to help our neighbors living here.
By the time I arrived, improv class was ending, but I was able to capture the last game where the kids were pretending they had just landed in Guatemala. Some of these kids or their parents were born there, and these kids seemed to really enjoy an imaginary trip home. Not sure why one little girl in denim overalls is lying on the floor. It must have been part of the game. Or maybe she was just worn out?