Twenty years ago, I participated in a Playwrights Project residency at my high school. I didn't have any connection to theater, but I fell in love with playwriting immediately. I loved creating personalities and meaning in conversations, and I loved that my words felt alive. So I wrote a play...
Then a classmate asked me if I was going to submit my play to the California Young Playwrights Contest. No way, I was done. She said I should, it was good. So, I submitted my play. Then one day during summer break, I got the phone call that would change my life forever. I had won.
When the ball got rolling with production of my play, I was blown away by this idea that theater professionals, these ADULTS, were taking what I had written seriously. I was just a kid and they were investing their time and energy to realize a vision for my script. And one evening back in 1995, I walked into the Cassius Carter Theater at The Old Globe to watch a play-the first play I would ever see-and it was my play. What an incredible feeling it was to watch people's faces and see them laughing. What a gift that moment was to me.
A few years later, I wrote another script, where I poured my guts out trying to resolve issues about the breakdown of my family. I won the contest a second time! This was the foundation for the work I do today. I am now a professional writer and playwright, and a teaching artist for Playwrights Project.
I have the privilege of working with some of the most reluctant writers in San Diego. My students are usually 14-18 years old and typically range from kids who are incarcerated, are expecting a child, or have been kicked out of traditional schools. Playwriting is the last thing they would ever want to do. Why would they need to write a play when they have real life problems? And I mean the kind of problems that break your heart if you're lucky and destroy your soul if you're not. There's no value in playwriting for them... until they see that there is. They see that there is value in telling their story.
I am their cheerleader. I tell them I believe their story deserves to be heard. And when professional actors put voices and movements to the scripts they worked on in class, in their cells, in their homes while trying to take care of life, they believe it too. If you could see their faces, if you could see what I see, it's magical. That's where this 20-year journey from contest winner to playwright and teaching artist has taken me, and I have Playwrights Project and your support to thank for that.
To me, playwriting is about healing; working things out, rewriting endings, and telling the stories that can help others heal, understand, and empathize. For over 30 years, Playwrights Project has touched thousands of lives; students, adult inmates, seniors, immigrants, and veterans are each given the chance to be heard.
Your contribution will help us reach further into schools and disenfranchised communities, and help individuals of all ages tell their stories through theatre.
Playwright and Teaching Artist