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Outside the Box: Changing Lives in San Francisco

by Nitra Gutierrez, Middle School and High School Program Associate

After the stage was clear, we had a few moments to rehearse our play. Here, Romeo (Lina) asks if Juliet (Leslie) if she will go on a date with him.

There’s a first time for everything. This weekend’s adventures marked a lot of “firsts” for us: first time to present our youth ensemble on a national scale, first flight on an airplane, first ride on a cable car, first chance to meet a famous solo performer and last but not least, first experience with jellyfish as a side dish and not just something to avoid on the beach.

This weekend, five ensemble members from the Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble presented at the National Conference on Health & Domestic Violence sponsored by Futures Without Violence. We shared an excerpt of our original play, Outside the Box during a plenary session entitled: Transformers: Risk, Resilience and the Promise of our Teens on the conference’s closing day. After the performance, one of our youth represented the ensemble on a panel to discuss teen relationship health.

As the Artistic Director for the Ensemble (and first time chaperone on a trip of this scale), finding the words to express the experience of this adventure is trickier than rounding up five teenagers in the biggest H&M clothing store they have ever seen. I hope sharing some of our photos with you can give you a taste of our experience. This trip is one I will hold onto for years to come. I know these kids will too. I am honored to work alongside such a fantastic group of youth who are creative, talented and committed to creating change among their peers. Thank you to Theatre Action Project & SafePlace for sending us on such a remarkable journey.

Before we knew it, our performance was over and we were faced with a standing ovation from healthcare professionals, social workers, community organizers, and activists.

Here Lina represents teen voices on a panel with Dr. Liz Miller and author Belva Davis

For several of us, the biggest thrill of the trip was getting the opportunity to meet Anna Deveare Smith, whose documentary theatre approach to solo performance involves “walking in the experience” of real people. We were able to see her perform excerpts from her new play just moments before we performed on the very same stage.

Leslie was just as excited as I was to see this legend in action.

We are smiling and sporting our presenter badges at a conference reception.
Leslie had never been on an airplane before. Aside from some minor squealing upon takeoff, she dealt with it like a champ!

Arrival at the San Francisco Airport.
Rumpled but ready for an adventure.

After the reception, we headed down to Chinatown for some adventurous cuisine.

Leslie and Nicole jam to the beats of a local Brazilian performance group.

What better way to celebrate a performance in San Francisco than by hopping onto a cable car and heading to Fisherman’s Wharf for some seafood?

Above: Gary bravely points out the jellyfish dish.
And tries it without fear! The verdict?
Yummy, with sesame flavor and very, very chewy.

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.

One response »

  1. Pingback: The End of the Beginning « Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble

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