By: Ruby (9th grader), Owen (8th grader), Maya (9th grader), & Rachael (8th grader) from Empowered Players (EP)
This blog post is the third of four in a Youth Performing Arts Series by teens involved in the performing arts. For more posts, please visit our blog.
- Empowered Players (EP) is a Fluvanna-based non-profit in VA designed to make a difference in the community through the arts. Their mission is to uplift the human spirit through access to quality arts experiences, youth empowerment, and community service through free & accessible K-12 theatre education and programming.
- In this Youth Performing Arts Series, youth involved with EP will share more about their experiences and perspectives engaging in the performing arts.
- In this third of four blog posts, Ruby, Owen, Maya and Rachael talk about community, social interactions and how these new skills will help them as adults.
We all know that community and social interaction is a vital part of humanity. Without it, we can’t grow and expand our knowledge of the world. Empowered Players aims to create a safe and diverse community that is accepting and inclusive. Being part of the Empowered Players community has changed us for the better, and here some examples of how:
- “We have met many new friends. Empowered Players is a family, and we are all very grateful to be part of it.” Rachael Broxon, an aspiring playwright and author, explains. “With the addition of Empowered Players to our lives, we’ve had more chances to make friends and interact with people we never would have met otherwise.”
- “Theatre changed our lives by introducing us to new people. Some of the people we were introduced to were people from different grades, homeschoolers, and people from other counties.” Owen Kaider says. According to Owen, if he had never joined theatre he wouldn’t have started his shoe company, Elvara Custom. Theatre gave him the confidence to pursue his dreams.
- “Empowered Players has given me more confidence. It helped me to learn to speak louder and how to convey things without using words.” Maya Blackburn, a martial artist and animal lover, mentions. “Without theatre I would be much less assertive, and would probably care more about what people think. In theatre you regularly embarrass yourself and do ridiculous things. By doing that in this safe place, it’s easier to do in public.”
- “Ever since I joined Empowered Players, I have been much more confident. I would have passed up countless opportunities if I had never joined Empowered Players. Before doing my first show, I probably would’ve passed out at even the thought of performing on stage.” Ruby Godlewski says.
Theatre changed our lives by introducing us to new people. Ruby wouldn’t have joined high school theatre if she hadn’t participated in Empowered Players. It helped Ruby to already have connections and know more people. If Maya hadn’t joined Empowered Players, then she wouldn’t have made as many friends, and it helped her to think faster on her feet.
Empowered Players gives new perspectives to kids. Older and younger kids mix, which gives the younger kids people who are not much older than them to look up to. The teenagers have the younger ones around, and that helps them to remember what it’s like to be little, and holds them to a standard that should keep them being responsible. The different age groups mix, and they get along more than some would think. That is beneficial for both of the groups.
The Theatre Community & New Skills
We had to learn how to work together for a production to go well. Those same skills can also apply to real life, too.
If an ensemble doesn’t work well together, then the show won’t be good, and the audience will be confused. Most workplaces function the same. If staff don’t get along and don’t collaborate well, then people could get fired and the business won’t succeed as much as it should. We learned to work well together, even if we weren’t friends or didn’t particularly like each other. Previous theatre groups we attended weren’t nearly as efficient because their community was not quite as advanced as it is here with Empowered Players.
Theatre gets kids out of their shells. Before joining Empowered Players, we were shy, and much quieter. Now we are more outgoing and less soft-spoken. When we need to be loud, or talk authoritatively, we can, whereas before, we didn’t know how. We’ve learned how to speak in different ways, and that helps us when speaking to adults, or to younger kids. Theatre has helped us learn how to better express ourselves, and by learning how the characters feel, it’s helped us to figure out how we feel. When we had to identify how our characters felt, so that we could better embody them it helped us to learn how to identify feelings in general, including our own.
Because of our growing, nurturing, and accepting community, Empowered Players continues to “change the world, one show at a time.”
If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Youth-Nex@virginia.edu. Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.
Author Bio: Maya is a freshman at Fluvanna County High School and has been involved with theatre since 4th grade. She has been with Empowered Players for five years, and has been in both musicals and plays. Maya is part of the tech crew, and did the lighting for the fall Rudolph Musical. Last fall was her biggest role with Empowered Players in which she was Wednesday in the Addams Family Musical. This is her first time writing for a UVA blog.
Author Bio: Owen Kaider is an 8th grader at Fluvanna County High School and has participated in Empowered Players for five years. His previous roles with EP include Charlie in Willy Wonka, Rooster in Annie, Marty in Madagascar, Olaf in Frozen, and Sam the Snowman in Rudolph. He is also an aspiring sound designer and managed sound for EP’s series of original plays this past fall. Owen also recently founded a shoe company titled Elvara Custom. He looks forward to designing sound for EP’s upcoming production of The SpongeBob Musical: Youth Edition.
Author Bio: Ruby Godlewski is a freshman at FCHS. She’s been a member of the Empowered Players community for about 6 years. She is a member of the EP Teen Arts Board, and you can catch her onstage starring as SpongeBob in The SpongeBob Musical: Youth Edition this spring.
Author Bio: Rachael is in eighth grade and has been with Empowered Players for six years. She loves doing musicals and is looking forward to performing The SpongeBob Musical: Youth Edition this spring. She is an aspiring author and is currently working on a top secret project that’s not really that secret at all.