Using the power of performance in art to transform the lives of youth at the edge
We believe in the creative spark that exists in everyone.
We believe the world can be harsh and unjust, at times inflicting pain on people who don’t deserve it; and that this can wound all of us.
We believe that through storytelling, collaborating, finding one’s voice through creative challenge, many wounds can be healed…. opening us to deeper expression, finding resilience in storms, and beauty once the storm has passed.
We use the power of performance in art to transform the lives of youth at the edge. Our work brings to life the creative artist within young people who are not thriving in mainstream environments. These young people, often in situations where they have the least opportunity to be heard, are those who need it most.
We serve a broad population: Native American youth, children of Hispanic farm workers, teenagers in residential care for psychiatric diagnoses, young mothers, all sorts of young people who have not thrived in the mainstream education system. Our objectives are two-fold: to work with young writers to create courageous, character driven plays, and through this experience consolidate and process their own emotional - often traumatic - memories and experiences. Creating art and healing are integrated in a way that is complex and mutually supporting. The young people in PlayWrite workshops develop tools to create a unique work of art, something that is entirely their own, and the benefits are enduring.
Our playwriting workshops are built with these convictions:
- Creativity and artistic potential are within every person – the flame of art burns at the core of the self.
- Creativity becomes art when it is guided by craftsmanship.
- Craftsmanship is learned through tenacity, hard work, and a willingness to learn.
- Strength and competence develop as one learns and uses the tools of creative arts.
- A profound learning experience takes place when a young person works one–on–one with a committed, trained, and attuned adult.
- Creating a play entirely in one’s own words requires seeing and feeling another’s point of view, which leads to empathy and understanding.
- It is deeply validating for a young person to have his or her work taken seriously by professional actors.
- When a young person’s play is skilfully brought to life, discovery and transformation take place: author and audience see themselves and each other in a new light.
“Youth at the edge”
Young people we serve can be described using a range of terminology. “Youth at Risk”, “Disadvantaged Youth”, “Underserved”, “Marginalized.” We sat down with PlayWrite graduates and discussed with them how they wished to be described. Through an intensive workshop process we found language that acknowledged the diversity of the young people we work with, their difficulties, dangers and extraordinary potential. Together we found the phrase “Youth at the edge.”
Youth at the edge contains within it a multitude of meanings: the edge of chrysalis and new beginnings; the edges and boundaries artists explore, expose and reinvent. Some of our PlayWrites live on challenging precipices – experiencing homelessness or mental illness, or situations fraught with grief, bullying or loss. All of our PlayWrites are on the edge of new discoveries, new possibilities, and the power that comes with discovering and using their creative voices.