Guest Post: Theatre Action Project

Posted: June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
 SafePlace is proud to have Theatre Action Project as a partner on our Start Strong Austin grant, as well as a partner for the Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble,
by Patrick Torres, Middle and High School Program Director

For the past nine years I have been working as an arts educator and theatre director in Washington, D.C. Most recently, I was the Associate Artistic Director at Young Playwrights’ Theaterteaching students to express themselves clearly and creatively through the art of playwriting. During my time in D.C., I had the opportunity to work with incarcerated youth, the homeless community, and students from all over the world to create original plays. And while I will always cherish each of those experiences, I can say without question, “It is good to be home.”

I was born and raised in Odessa, TX. Shockingly, it was there that I got my first taste of the power of theatre. I confess that I committed the worst sin in West Texas – I quit playing football the year before I turned varsity to join the drama club! At the end of my senior year, I directed a controversial play called Loyalties by Murphy Guyer. The play confronts audiences’ perspectives on patriotism and war, and it caused a stir when it was finally performed. Some parents were so angry about the content of the play that they did not want their children to be friends with me any longer. My reaction was,

“Wow. I can’t believe directing a play has infuriated people this way…I want to do this for the rest of my life!”

Now that I am a little more mature, I recognize that what was so exciting about that experience in high school was seeing the power of art to lead people to examine their thoughts, perspectives and beliefs.

-Theatre  requires us to sit in a room together and wrestle with our own preconceptions of social issues, morals, and personal choices.

– It can teach us empathy, conflict resolution and critical thinking.

-And it can inspire us to take action to create the kind of world we want to live in by sparking civic dialogue and encouraging social change.

For these reasons, I believe it is critical that every young person is exposed to the arts throughout their lives. The lessons taught by participation in the arts equip our youth with the skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century.

Theatre Action Project is preparing students for the future by letting them know that their voices have power and their experiences and imaginations have the potential to change the world around them. I am humbled to be a part of the team and look forward to all of the youth I will have the privilege of teaching. I look forward to hearing their stories and seeing the difference they will make in their communities.

 

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