I went to a play on Friday night that was part of the “Young Playwrights Project” in San Diego. High School students submit plays. The winning scripts are produced and performed professionally at the prestigious Old Globe Theatre.
My parents have been active in the organization and invite me every year. It is eye opening to see the voices that come from intelligent young adults. I’m always impressed.
We usually go on opening night so we can drink champagne (or sparkling cider) with the playwrights and actors afterwards.
I think its important to connect with these young artists. I think its important to encourage them. To try to give them some momentum on their artistic path before the world tries to convince them capitalist aquisition is a more valuable pursuit than the arts.
I approached the 15 year old kid who played the role of PeterPan/Pizza Boy in one of the plays. He looked me in the eyes with more courage than I expected.
“I’m gonna tell you a story,” I said in front of him and his parents.
“I loved drawing and writing. But when I was a little older than you, I realized that those weren’t very realistic pursuits. I mean, the number of people who make a living being creative writers is so small that it is statistically zero.
“So I studied Psychology in college. I tried different jobs through the years and tried to play the game that everyone else was playing. It took me ten years to figure out that it is okay to be who I am.”
His eyes were sparkling. The girls at his school must swoon.
“You can be whatever you want. It will work out.”
As I walked back to our car I wished I could had that conversation with every teenager on the planet. So, if you’re reading this: “You can be whatever you want.”