Culture Report: Playwriting to Connect

Arts/Culture UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Culture Report: Playwriting to Connect

Playwrights Project reaches inmates, kids in juvie and others with a distinctive perspective to share their stories. Plus, NSFW embroidery, Barrio Logan’s future and more in our weekly culture roundup.

At the Playwrights Project, an empty stage is a powerful tool.

The nonprofit taps into the experiences people who have faced tremendous odds, empowering them to educate others on worlds their viewers may know little about. For those in the audience, it’s an opportunity to connect. A stage is a time machine, a recorder, an instrument and so much more.

The Playwrights Project team, led by executive director Cecelia Kouma, serves as a megaphone to amplify the experiences of the people they work with by creating original plays based on their stories. The group has collaborated with inmates at Donovan State Prison, kids in the juvenile detention system, military veterans, people who live near the border and others with a distinctive perspective.

Post-performance, they hold a panel to discuss the themes and stories in those plays, giving audience members a chance to share their own experiences and further connect with play-makers.

“Ultimately, theater is about creating empathy and building community,” said Kouma. “We want to empower people to believe their stories are unique and worth communicating, so they build connections to each other and build a healthier world.”

The plays can have a powerful impact on participants. When Playwrights Project worked with maximum security inmates at Donovan State Prison to bring inmates’ stories to life through original theatrical works, for example, officials reported that the program improved behavior in those inmates.

“Of those 10 in the program, three got moved off the yard and into a lower level of security. I just got a letter today from one of the participants who has been there for 36 years and hadn’t been in any programming and is so motivated now. People in the program were sharing their stories with their cell mates and feeling so positively about what they created,” Kouma said.

They plan on returning to the prison to work with more inmates, giving them a welcome change from what Kouma said can be a “dehumanizing” experience behind bars.

The Playwrights Project has many more programs and performances in the works, including a site-specific piece with women from Second Chance, a southeastern San Diego-based program that helps people transition back into the workforce after time spent homeless, in prison or rehab.

You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.

NSFW Art, Bridging Across the Border and More Visual Art Nibbles

Jaclyn Rose’s art is pretty NSFW, but also simply pretty. Armed with her sewing machine and some real talk, she creates detailed embroidered pieces with a feminist edge. Love her! (CityBeat)

An Iranian-American woman wants to bridge the gap between San Diego and Tijuana artists once and for all. (CityBeat)

The Mission Federal ArtWalk brings together artists of various media to show and sell their work. Pacific San Diego talks to a few participating artists they have their eye on.

The Search for a Symphony Conductor and More Music and Performance Pieces

Humphrey’s Summer Concert Series lineup was announced and holy crap there’s some awesomeness on there. Ride? Yes, please! (Sounddiego)

 The La Jolla Playhouse is $1.5 million richer. (San Diego Magazine)

 The San Diego Symphony is basically looking for The City’s Next Top Conductor. Smizing not required. (U-T)

The Barrio’s Future, Baby Jaguars and More Culture Bits

So, what is the future of Barrio Logan? The U-T examines.

A little over a week ago, Makers Arcade at the newly refurbished North Park Post Office hosted artists, crafters, makers and the like. CityBeat’s Urban Scout picked a few of her favorites from the event.

Cesar Chavez is an indelible part of American history for his activism and the rights he fought to bring to Mexican-American/Chicano and Filipino farm workers. As the child of a former farm worker who spent some of his childhood years picking fruit on farms, I’m grateful for that. The U-T has a round-up of the many places you can celebrate Cesar Chavez Day (today) this week.

For decades, people have lamented that McDonald’s stops service breakfast at 10:30 a.m. They raised their fist to the heavens at 10:31 a.m., the promise of a crispy hash brown gone to the place where dreams dissolve into nothingness. Ronald McDonald must have heard those deep-fried cries and is testing out all-day breakfast right here in San Diego. (CNBC)

In this week’s cuteness news: BABY JAGUAR!!! (MSNBC)

North County has a lot to offer and San Diego Magazine lists a few reasons why. The mag also picks its favorite trails. Perfect for all you people who appear to hate man’s greatest invention: Netflix.

Tiny houses are all the rage right now. A bathroom/home office? Sure, why not! The Reader talks about the adorable little housing fad.

Show Comments
Loading

We’re striving for the best possible discussion and may delete comments using our editorial judgment. All comments containing links will be reviewed by VOSD staff before they are published.
Read our full comment policy.
For longer comments, consider submitting an op-ed to Voice of San Diego.
Read the guidelines here.

We have recently updated our commenting system. If you are unable to submit a comment, please clear the cache and cookies in your browser, or use a private browsing window. Click here for detailed instructions.