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by: Sarah Galante
Over the past few months, Philadelphia Young Playwrights has brought together professional artists, University of the Arts students, and Philadelphia high school students to collaborate on PYP’s exciting new change to their annual fundraiser that has previously taken place at World Cafe Live. Write On! will take place on May 11th in Philadelphia Young Playwrights new home on 1219 Vine St (the Asian Arts Initiative Building) and will be an interactive evening focusing on celebrating our new home. Guests will also be able to work alongside teen and college artists, social practice artists, and theater professionals from AAI (Asian Arts Initiative), MAP (Mural Arts Program), and PYP (Philadelphia Young Playwrights) toward a new and collaborative work art in progress, the 1219 Project.
Throughout this past spring semester, Glen Knapp and David Bradley have been teaching a special topics course at the University of the Arts called Approaches to Multi-Generational Theater Making. UArts students have been collaborating with professional artists and high school writers alike through a series of different guest artists, speakers, and out of class workshops. I had the opportunity to interview one of the students currently taking the course, a freshman playwriting major named Joshua Logan Walker, and I think he explains the magnitude and creative energy of the course perfectly.
SG: What has it been like collaborating with high school students within a college classroom?
JLW: They have the most amazing things to say. I don’t remember being so creatively driven when I was a high school student. There are moments during discussion, where I’m listening to one of them speak, and I’m just astounded by their eloquence and their innovative ideas. They’ve really brought things to the table that nobody else can. It’s been an incredible experience.
SG: How about the professional artists?
JLW: That’s also been a really enlightening experience. Not only have we gotten to collaborate with professional theater artists, we’ve had the experience to listen to professionals in all forms of arts administration. Within class we’ve gotten to meet staff members from the Asian Arts Initiative, and the Mural Arts program. It’s exciting to be exposed to them in such a creatively stimulating way!
SG: As a UArts student taking the Approaches to Multi-Generational Theater Making class, what is your role in the 1219 Project?
JLW: Well, within the classroom we’ve been working towards planning the Write On! event. There’s always a certain amount of ambiguity when it comes to explaining a devised process, because we are constantly in the midst of creating. I would consider myself a fellow collaborator on the 1219 Project.
SG: What excites you most about the 1219 Project?
JLW: Throughout this process we’ve been keeping track of recurring themes. A lot of the themes that we’ve uncovered have been related to community. We’ve talked a lot about our individual communities. What they mean to us. How they’ve affected us as artists. How they’ve helped us grow. Hearing these stories from my fellow collaborators has been fascinating. Everyone grew up someplace different. However, it’s amazing to think that the experiences I’ve had growing up in Virginia can be so similar to another person who grew up in New York City. Seeing all of our roots. That’s what’s been the most exciting.
SG: If you could describe the Write On! event in one sentence, what would it be?
JLW: An interactive and collaborative party, celebrating Philadelphia Young Playwrights new home and growing community!