Jake Arky is the co-founder of So Say We All. At the time that this article was published, he is completing a playwriting residency with TheatreWorks, Silicon Valley. The Young Playwrights Project involves writing new, original works for the stage and teaching performance/writing classes in local high schools.
What can I say? I’m bursting with pride! Today was the final performance with the East Palo Alto storytelling class and it went better than I had ever imagined. All the hard work, all the long afternoons and endless nights on this storytelling project finally paid off. And more so for the East Palo Alto storytellers. Today their work was validated as something that is important, that their stories matter to their friends, family, and community. Other students rushed me after the performance to get more info about the class and where they could sign up.
An estimated 100 people were at EPA’s cafeteria/gym to watch the final performance. A few students got a little scared right before we started, saying that they didn’t want us reading their work, that it was too embarrassing. Others chose not to stand up and take the applause that the crowd threw their way. We gave all the students a certificate of completion, a bound copy of the script, and a copy of the program with their name on it.
One girl said she’d never had a certificate like this before. She was smiling ear-to-ear and blushing when people congratulated her on writing such amazing works. All of the actors were fantastic and to have a large number of TheatreWorks staff in attendance, not just from the education department, but from HQ, that just went to show how many stood behind this project.
As happy as today was, this is the conclusion of the East Palo Alto high school storytelling project for the time being. Even though there were some hard days and tough classes, I’m going to miss all the students and working with them each day. I told the vice principle that on the worst days at EPAAH, it is still better than sitting in a stuffy office typing away computer jargon. That’s a true fact.
Very special thanks to: Donell Hill, Erika Yanin Perez-Hernandez, Ray Rios, Chirsty Sandoval, Jay Vera, Mary Sutton, Ashleigh Hill, Yetunde Reeves, Jeff Camarillo, and The Pickus Family for making this happen.
Now it is time for San Diego to pick up on this trend of in-school storytelling. So Say We All is ready to develop a storytelling program for schools all over San Diego County. Contact us for more information about teaching performance storytelling at your school or youth program.
Everyone’s got a story…what’s your’s?