2020 Y.E.P. REFLECTIONS

I have taken a break. I went into nature, hiked, sat in a freezing cold waterfall and swam in a lake. I spent time with my family. I breathed mountain air. It is time to reflect. We made the agonizing decision to go ahead with the Intensive this spring. We decided to go virtually because I was confident that we had facilitators who could create a virtual space that was safe, challenging, encouraging, exciting, educational and fun for everybody. Ok, I admit, I had my doubts about the technology but I have faith in the youngers to help us navigate. I, too, was experiencing zoom fatigue, but I hoped that after a break we could all start anew.

We did. I look back at what being online forced us to do. We couldn’t rely on proximity, fun running-around games and physical touch to build teamwork and collaboration skills. As a Physical Theatre professional, this made me sad. We missed out on the cool balancing, the finding-yourself-in-space, your cultural identity within space, etc.

We also had challenges building theatre together. We were not in the same room. We had no audience reacting, feeding energy back and forth. It is a very different thing to record homework assignments than to rehearse and put together a piece of theatre. So, we adapt….

And grow! I was amazed on a daily basis how deep these teens wanted to go in discussion, in questioning the guest artists, in writing and performing about themselves. I was amazed at the quality of reflection, of what they were learning and sharing on a daily basis. I was amazed at their technical and creative skills when crafting a performance piece. I had an idea and they came back the next day with the piece done, edited, crafted, cut, and polished – and it blew my little idea out of the water! This happened multiple times. We were given gems of knowledge on a daily basis. The participants had taken a rock that we had given them (or just pointed to- over there under that mountain) and they came back with a fully cut, sparkling, multifaceted gem!

There are too many examples to cite here, but take a gander at the videos and quotes we will soon be posting. I hope you are as inspired as I am. I have faith that connection, education, creativity and collaboration can happen virtually. And for now, that is what we have. As for the future, we are still hoping for full, in-person Intensives, but we will continue to integrate with technology! And, perhaps, we will do another all-virtual intensive with folks from around the globe! Who knows….

I am sitting in gratitude.

~ Shawnna Pledger

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