Students find their voices at Monologue Festival
The Philadelphia Tribune
The Philadelphia Young Playwrights and InterAct Theatre presented the winning monologues from the 2011 Young Voices High School Monologue Festival Feb. 16-19 at the Adrienne Theater.
Thirteen of the monologues presented, which dealt with such issues as identity, bullying, culture, and current events were from public school students, representing such schools as Constitution High School, The Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Academy at Palumbo and Science Leadership Academy.
“The monologue festival gives both organizations a chance to spread learning to schools not in our core [playwrighting] program,” said Glen Knapp, Executive Producing Director of Philadelphia Young Playwrights. The monologue program gives students the chance to work with local theater actors, directors and dramaturgs, who help develop and edit the pieces, then act them out on stage.
In addition to showing students the professional side of a monologue production, Knapp noted that the other important part of the program was making students’ voices heard.
“[Youth] don’t feel listened to very much…but this turns that on its head. They can come in this safe place we create as artists and explore all their [concerns].”
Students agreed that the festival gave them an outlet to express some inner issues.
Academy of Palumbo senior Ivan Tsang wrote “Leaving the Cage,” to reflect his experience trying to become his own person. “It shows what happens to me when I was younger. When I used to go to private school my parents had full control over what I had to do. I had to … be the perfect person,” said Tsang, who added that when he began high school, he became more vocal.
“I started saying, ‘I want to do this.’ They accept it to a certain degree. Some things I can’t cross the border, but they are more lenient now. Like, now I can decide what college I want to got to.”
Akil King, also a senior at Academy of Palumbo, said his monologue, “I Wanna Fly,” is based on his devastating experience of not making the high school basketball team, but still figuring out a way to make basketball a part of his life.
“It’s about a young boy who realizes he can’t make it to the NBA, so he decides he’d rather follow basketball by being a journalist and writing about it. I didn’t make my high school basketball team so I was kind [depressed]. When I was given [this] assignment that’s all I was thinking about.”
King explained that he now wants to make a career writing about his favorite sport, since he will not be an actual athlete. “I would really love to cover it as a journalist,” he said, adding that the lesson of his monologue is to always follow your dream.
“You should never give up on what you want to be. There’s going to be a lot of obstacles in your way but you have to strive forward and if you can’t make it one way, there’s always different routes to take.”