Looking for a meaningful way to spend First Friday? Head over to the Ware Center on First Friday, October 7th at 7:30 p.m. to see the one night only performance of “New Choices… New Beginnings,” a Readers Theatre montage of the life stories of participants in the New Choices Career Development program.
After more than two years working with Tricia Nabors, the director of New Choices, and as a writing workshop instructor with the program which Nabors has built in Lancaster over the past five years, Sandy Asher realized that it was time to share some of the most poignant personal stories from New Choices participants with the larger Lancaster community.
“These women have stories they need to share,” Asher, a local author and playwright, says of the New Choices participants she has worked with to shape the production. “The stories are always moving, sometimes they can be very upsetting, but I think what we have to remember is that these women are always choosing to tell their stories. They want to share them no matter how painful they are.”
“New Choices was the best kept secret I’d ever come across,” Asher says with a smile. The program aims “to assist women in transition throughout Lancaster County to achieve economic self-sufficiency,” according to the organization’s website, including single mothers, dislocated homemakers, and female inmates who will soon be released before transitioning back to living in our community. (For more on New Choices and Nabors, check out Lunch in Issue 38 of FLL for a full interview.)
In an effort to grow awareness of the amazing and much-needed work that Nabors and New Choices are doing here in Lancaster, Asher worked with program participants at the YWCA, Lancaster CareerLink, and Lancaster County Prison in guided writing workshops to help these women tell their personal stories, perhaps for the very first time. “For many of these women, this is the very first time they are being listened to, or even more importantly, this is the first time they’re truly being heard,” Nabors says.
The play is shaped by the progress of a New Choices workshop, following an arc of personal growth in the participants from day one through the graduation. Asher initially had about 200 personal stories to work with, given to her by women excited to share their personal narratives and to help New Choices in any way they could. From there, she narrowed down their stories to the play that will be performed on First Friday in October.
The performance is free and open to the public, though suggested donations of $5, $10, or $25 will be accepted at the front desk box office during the event. “It is so important to us just to grow community awareness, and to have people know who we [New Choices] are and what we do, that even if we raise no money, I will still be happy,” Nabors says, smiling her signature, determined smile. A short Q&A will also be held in the theatre space after the performance, featuring Nabors and Asher.