Being an immigrant in the United States, I experience most feelings, images and comments around me with a little bit of delay. This is not because I am slow, but because my brain takes time to process the new, the different.
It was a day that I was doing a site visit at one of our school partnerships, when I saw the Constitution’s first page hanging on one of the classroom’s walls. It then hit me, that the title ‘We The People’ means more than what I thought.
I have been the Artistic Director for a full semester now, and if there is one thing I have to say
about People’s Theatre Project’s Public Programs and it’s participants it is that People, especially young People are strong, yes they are.
Starting in February 2018, our studio opened its doors in order to host the youth of our beautiful community in Washington Heights and Inwood. Sixty Seven young people, ages from 4 to 24, participated and still are in our free of charge theatre and social justice programs.
Sixty Seven people representing their community, walk in an empty space and fill it with questions, laughter, joy and resistance. If one hasthe luck to walk by, the voices would stop them. One would be stopped by Angie’s voice, when she calls everyone to circle up, clapping and chanting! It has been a pleasure to observe how our Circle Up 1 kids, every Friday ad Saturday run around in circles, write poems about their voices, play games, and now are rehearsing on a piece, talking about the colorful rainbow, a comment on racism and colorism. And it is a rainbow full of all the colors indeed. I sat quietly in the rehearsal, and saw a colorful flag being a wave, from which each performer would emerge and speak loud and proud their text. I heard Despacito with new lyrics, I saw hula hoops and people doing acrobatics, I saw movement in the space, I witnessed magic made by a group of people at age 4 and 5.
The studio smells like hope and life. It is with the same inspiration and amusement that I have observed our middle school kids devise a dance on the freshly written song by the Parkland students ‘Shine’, that I observed the powerful performance ‘Somos New York’ by our young adults in front of Commissioners in City Hall, the same excitement when I heard powerful monologues from our playwrights.
And it is with the same excitement and humbleness that I get to coach our To Be Heard 2 group of high school performers. This group of
people, these young poets can run the world. For two hours every Saturday, 13 young adults, come in the space and by using dance, acrobatics, songs and scenes are talking about racism. They talk in ways that adults are afraid to, they name things, they celebrate their identities and cultures. I often sit across them in the rehearsal room and admire their belief in themselves, in each other and in the work itself. I see how invested they are and committed to the ensemble. They all breathe like one body, they look each other in the eyes before they jump into the unknown. And when the curtain is up, they introduce me to a new world. The world they want to live in. A world where a boy can run as fast as the wind, a girl leads a choreography chanting This is America, a world where voices of all skin color are heard and celebrated!
We The People is a Theatre Extravaganza made by the Young People. They really got me thinking the Constitution of this nation should be rewritten by them. And the first edit should be, ‘We, the Young People’.
We The People can. We the People come together and create, sing, dance and talk.