When I was in high school, I received an assignment in my honors English class about writing poetry. Granted, writing poetry was a little less cool than it is now, but it was a good excuse to put pen to paper to write about my feelings. At the time, I was going through a lot of hardship and I didn’t really have a way of dealing with it. This assignment set a spark off in my brain that writing could help me figure out how to deal with the crazy injustices I was seeing get caught up in my head.
Flash forward to today. I recently attended the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival, and boy were my socks knocked off. The contest was based around young people and gave them the freedom to write and submit an original one-act play, and if their play was selected, have the piece read through by professional actors. I volunteered at the theatre that hosted it, and it was one of the greatest nights of my life.
Now, you may be asking why this had such an impact. The Playwrights Festival gave something to these students that happened to me when I was in high school: freedom and encouragement. They were able to write about any topic they wished, whether it be about racism, feminism, or murder (and yes, there was one of all three). It was astonishing to watch the characters from blooming young minds come to life on stage. The theatre granted them an opportunity to see their writing being unfolded in a new and original light.
This kind of self promotion in young people is so important. So, so important. I wouldn’t be a writer today had it not been for the encouragement of my journalism teacher, as well as local programs offered at community libraries. The arts are so easily lost through the cracks of today’s society, but they mean so much when put into practice. We must never let young people live in a world where promotion of the arts does not exist. We need the arts to nurture self-image and growth, especially at a young age.
Did you ever have an awakening of sorts when you first got introduced into the arts? I’d love to hear.