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New Stages: Arts Empowerment for Juvenile Offenders

by Patrick Torres, Middle School and High School Program Director

I started summer programming this week for our New Stages: Arts Empowerment for Juvenile Offenders program at Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center. I am working with three of the Boys’ Units every Tuesday and Thursday. We started the program with a workshop about inspiration and character and discussed how finding inspiration to create characters for dramatic writing already exists inside all of us because each of us has a unique experience in the world. We can use these experiences to share our perspectives with an audience in an effort to have them reevaluate their own beliefs and values or introduce them to a new way of thinking about a particular subject. So, the participants created personal monologues exploring the misperceptions people may have of them as incarcerated youth. The resulting work was inspiring. Their monologues suggested they have a true understanding of themselves and the choices they have made in the past while expressing hope that people can see past their mistakes. Here is a small excerpt for one of the monologues:

You think you know me? You might think I’m a bad person and I don’t care about anything. Well, let’s set the record straight – I’m not really a bad person. There is a lot of good things I have done in life, and I do care about my education and I mostly care about my family…

Needless to say, the success of this first week has made me very excited about the potential scripts we will create together at Gardner Betts. If you are interested in writing a monologue in the same format we used during our workshops, I would love to read them! Just follow the prompt below and leave it in the comment section or email me at

You think you know me? You think I’m _____________ and _____________. Well, let’s set the record straight – I’m ________________________________________________________________

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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