Youth Ensemble Project: Meet-Up in the Motor City By: Summer Starling of Mosaic Youth Theatre

"Hey, Everybody!"
"Yeah?"
"Are you down with (insert name here)?!"

Now, by the end of the Meet-Up, you were definitely down with that person. This was all due to the in-depth view and newly discovered appreciation for other young artists that our dialogue developed.  

On March 5, 2014, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit and Matrix Teen Company "got down" with each other at the Detroit Meet-Up for the Youth Ensemble Project. This meeting quickly transformed into somewhat of a theatre cypher and had the feeling of a cast party; opposed to a meeting. We began the meet-up with some delicious Mexican food (I had about 27 tacos!). After feasting alongside our fellow ensemble members, we opened with an introduction exercise.

"Hey, My name is Summer, I'm 17, I attend Detroit School of the Arts and my favorite article of clothing is a vintage Chanel vest".

We all went around the room and similarly introduced ourselves with our; Name, Age, School and Favorite Article of Clothing. The ages ranged from 12 to 19 and our names were all uniquely ours. Even our favorite articles of clothing somehow fit our names. Introducing ourselves this way provided a little more insight into who the young artist was. Not to make a judgement-- more to build anticipation to learn even more about them.

After our introductions, we sat in an all-inclusive circle on the floor to begin the youth led discussion. We started the discussion with our individual definition of an ensemble. Collectively, we agreed that an ensemble is "a group coming together with a common purpose, to achieve a goal". We then explored and shared how this definition is applicable to the way our own youth ensembles function.

This topic then became an introduction to "who we are" as youth theatre companies. Mosaic Young Artists stated our mission statement (which has been tattooed onto our brains) and shared our interpretations of the mission. Matrix did the same and we were able to talk about how we carry out our missions in our rehearsal process. We also discussed how our mission translates through the art we produce.

Before we knew it, we were already enthusiastically recognizing how similar our theatre companies were. These discoveries included: Our struggles during tech week and how difficult it is to have a "social life" outside of the theatre workspace. The climax of this portion of the discussion was all of us reciting our most infamous line "Sorry, I can't, I have rehearsal".

This discussion turned more into a relaxed dialogue between friends in a safe space. Just a bunch of Detroit teenagers sharing our passion for theatre and experiences as young artists. We are all grateful for NET for unifying our youth theatres and sparking a refreshing and innovative dialogue. Thank you Network of Ensemble Theaters for supporting the work of Youth Ensembles in Detroit!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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