March 30, 2010
On March 16, 2010, over three hundred theatre students, theatre educators, friends and school administrators gathered at the state capitol for California Youth in Theatre Day (CYIT), sponsored by California Educational Theatre Association. CYIT , is an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of theatre education to state legislators. Prize-winning students are selected to meet with their local legislators, perform monologues, songs, dances and scenes at the Sacramento Theatre Company (STC) and participated in workshops with STC staff.
This week, the Alliance
spoke to four students from Birmingham Community Charter High School about their trip to Sacramento.
Alliance: What made you want to be a part of California Youth in Theatre Day?
Jade Williams: I wanted to participate in CYIT because it was a chance to show people and our legislators how important the arts are to me and to many of my peers. It was a chance to showcase some work that we worked really hard on and to show how much we would appreciate keeping the arts in our schools.
Jasmine Sturgeon: I wanted to participate because it felt like such an honor to be chosen to perform. I wanted to make a difference no matter how small.
Alliance: What were the highlights of your trip to Sacramento?
Aaron Diaz: The highlight of my Sacramento trip was watching other performances. I got to see new talent and get inspired by the stories they were telling and energy they were sending out to the audience.
I also got to see the Wells Fargo Pavilion theater after my performance. The theater is amazing. I just felt that energy stepping on that stage. I imagined myself in a performance and felt that power and that message that a performer can deliver.
Workshops were helpful too. I learned things that I didn’t know about theatre in other cultures in the world. I was also able to work with other people that also love theatre. Just going to Sacramento was one of my highlights. I’ve never been to Sacramento and this was a perfect opportunity to see my state’s capitol. It was great meeting one of the legislators and walking around the building that our Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger probably walks through every day.
Alliance: What was it like meeting with legislators?
Afsatu Metzger: I had the great pleasure of meeting with Senator Alex Padilla and explaining the importance of theatre in schools. I also had the chance to tell him how theatre has affected me in a positive way; for example, I have become a more effective communicator through acting.
Alliance: Did you learn anything new from your trip? Was there anything that surprised you?
Afsatu Metzger: I learned that there is an urgent need to get leaders to understand the importance of theatre and the arts in schools. I was surprised that there are those who have considered removing the arts from schools.
Jade Williams: I knew we were there to advocate for the arts, but I learned that we should be advocating all the time. In our communities and everywhere.
Alliance: What would you like to people to know about theatre education in schools? How has it helped you? Why is it important?
Jasmine Sturgeon: I would like to let people know that theater programs are not those stereotyped ones seen in the media. You learn so much from them it’s ridiculous and the amazing part is half the time you don’t even know that you’re learning something. Being a team player as well as being a leader, losing and winning graciously, confidence, [and] how to be someone people want to work with. These are all lessons that are important in life after high school.
Jade Williams: I would like them to know that it helps kids of all ages and it is something that we love doing. It makes me want to go to school. It keeps kids busy and out of trouble. It helped me find friends in high school… if I need anything I always have someone to go to.
Theatre helps so much with public speaking– the actual speaking part and the part about being in front of people. It teaches you to work with others and to be someone that people want to work with. It helps in almost all aspects of life.
Afsatu Metzger: Theatre has taught me to work in groups and realize that it is not always about me but the company as a whole.
Aaron Diaz: Theatre is more than just having a great time backstage or cracking jokes and making everything more memorable for you. It’s about making the moment more memorable for your audience. It’s about that connection that you have with the audience and sending a message to the people […] Whether it is a song, a play or a dance, the goal is to inspire them and make the audience reflect after a performance. It makes a lot of us stronger and more confident after each performance.