By Grace Madeya

As a college student who is interested in theatre education, week one of City Spotlights was very inspiring. Throughout the week, the teen leaders had opportunities to create art surrounding social justice topics. The teens first made performance pieces using current newspaper articles. In this activity, the teens knew how to play off each other’s strengths and combine different art forms to include everyone. One group created a scene that incorporated dance while another included spoken word, allowing everyone to showcase their talents. Another activity the teens did was research artists who were also advocates. Each group was assigned a different art form to present their artist; one group created a jingle, another an interpret dance, one did a spoken word, and the last group pantomimed. This activity was very inspiring to watch as the teens stepped outside their comfort zones and tried new art forms they have never done before. Many teens did not even know what pantomiming was, so to see them open to trying something new was really encouraging and showed that this summer was going to be a great one. As a teen leader, I grew as a performer, but now as a junior assistant I am growing as a teacher to help performers. When I create a piece of art, I make sure that what I am producing is something I am proud of. However, seeing teens take artistic risks and push themselves because they want to be professional artists is a new type of pride full of amazement and joy that I have never experienced before. During bootcamp, the teens selected a theme to advocate about for the summer: systemic oppression with a focus on mental health. Already in week one, I saw beautiful art and teens using their voices to make powerful statements. I can’t wait to see how they grow in the next few weeks through collaboration and different artistic skills.