PORTLAND -- At the Mount Scott Learning Center in Southeast Portland, a group of teenagers and adults gather in a circle.
In a move reminiscent of the wave, finger snaps are passed off person to person. It’s just a game, but one with a purpose. Because this game requires something most teenagers would like to avoid: eye contact with adults.
“I’m shy, very shy,” explains Skyrin Little, a Junior at Mt. Scott.
Skyrin is one of the students taking part in a ten-day workshop put on by a Portland group called PlayWrite. PlayWrite is all about connections. The kids work one-on-one with area writers learning to trust others and most of all themselves.
They are asked to dig deep into their own conflicts and emotions and then use them to write a one act play. The students are asked to develop characters with wants and fears and secrets. And like most artists they know just where to look for inspiration.
“Every single artist creates out of the things they have experienced in their lifetime,” explains PlayWrite founder Bruce Livingston.
Most of the kids have experienced plenty in their young lives. Skyrin’s play will star a chinchilla who she says is a lot like her.
“The chinchilla said I want to be me but not be judged. That’s what I have struggled with my whole life. I would try to be me, but I would get put down so much,” she said.
And after 27 intense hours of work, the student’s one-act plays will be performed by local actors, and the once-nervous teens will become play writes with the courage to speak their hearts.
At least that’s the hope of Bruce Livingston.
“I want them to walk away with the knowledge, the clear awareness and understanding that they are important human beings, that they have something important to say and they now have the voice to say it,” he said.