On October 4, I had the pleasure of attending YPT’s first New Writers Now! event of the season at GALA Hispanic Theatre in Columbia Heights. The theme of the evening was “Outside In”, and the three terrific plays that were performed posed the thought-provoking question, “How can we learn about ourselves from those who stand apart?” The playwrights’ inspiring, creative work brought both laughter and tears to the entire audience, as always, and as a member of YPT’s Board of Directors, it was particularly gratifying to me to see some of our fantastic community partners in the audience, along with the friends and families of the playwrights!
One piece which I found particularly moving was the beautiful play Moon Man, by Abby Melick. The piece tells the story of a young man who, after living alone as an orphan on the moon for years after losing his parents in a spaceship crash, finds himself on Earth again. The adjustment isn’t easy, and he has a difficult time reciprocating the small kindnesses he receives from the young girl who finds and tries to befriend him. At one point, the Moon Man, unable to take the pressures and frustrations of his isolating situation, contemplates ending his life.
As the Moon Man stood there, talking about why he felt this was the only way out for him, my mind couldn’t help but immediately think on those tragic young losses that a number of communities have had to cope with recently. When the young girl reached out a hand to help him and bring him away from the train tracks, tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about just how many helping hands are needed these days – hands that are willing to reach out and comfort kids who might be struggling through their own tough and challenging times. It was a moment on stage that reminded me what great theatre can be: challenging, thought-provoking, and deeply, profoundly moving.
After the performance, we were invited as a group to write brief letters to specific characters from the plays we had seen and to share them with the playwrights and the rest of the audience. I felt compelled to write mine to the Moon Man (who, as it turned out, also shared my love for the works of Shakespeare – what a kindred spirit!) Here’s a little excerpt of what I wrote:
“I am SO incredibly glad you decided to stay with us. Keep shining on, Moon Man.”
And so I say this too to every young person out there who might be doubting themselves right now: Your voice counts. We are listening. And we continue to need your amazing stories to remind us of those small kindnesses – those small moments of salvation – that make us all human.
Vice Chair, YPT Board of Directors