Young artists were honored at the theater’s 26th annual festival.
At the 26th annual Young Playwrights Festival, Coordinator Adam Ratner asked playwrights in the audience to stand as their country of origin was announced.
By the end of his speech, young playwrights from Mexico, Israel, Russia, Scotland and the United States were standing. It was a powerful visual representation of theater’s ability to transcend borders.
On May 20, Florida Studio Theatre celebrated 26 years of its Write A Play Program and honored winners of its Young Playwrights Festival.
Following performances of winning plays and a ceremony honoring educator of the year Tami Pilosoph, keynote speaker Emily Mann spoke to the playwrights and their families.
Mann is playwright, actor, director and artistic director of McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J. In her career, she’s received the Peabody, Obie and Tony awards, a Guggenheim fellowship and other distinctions.
She spoke about the importance of fostering young artists.
“Everyone is in this room because you all wrote plays that matter,” she told the audience. “The world needs to hear your voice.”
FINDING THEIR VOICES:
Following the ceremony, we sat down with speaker Emily Mann to discuss the importance of theater and why the voice of the youth matters.
"IT'S SO IMPORTANT to encourage young people to write. It takes a lot of courage to make your voice heard, and it’s our job to give these children the confidence it takes to do that. We need to hear their voices.”
"PEOPLE COME TO THE THEATER to hear the truth onstage. It can be small truths or large, seemingly insurmountable problems, but if you write something meaningful, you truly can change the world. Even if your words reach just one person, you’ve made an impact.”
"THERE'S NOTHING like the experience of live theater. Something happens that you can’t get from a movie or TV. When you’re engaged with all five senses and in the same room as the performers, your brain releases oxytocin, and that helps you form empathy. That’s what it’s all about for me.”
"PEOPLE TALK ABOUT going to the theater to see themselves reflected onstage. I think you should go to the theater to see someone you don’t know reflected. It’s crucial to understanding the world through someone else’s eyes.”
"CHILDREN HAVE THE ABILITY to put things so simply. They can tell stories in a way that adults often can’t. A program like this gives them the confidence that what they have to say really matters — and it does.”