Seeking Teen Artist-Activists

Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble

McCall: I love spreading the message about healthy relationships and [gender-based] issues.

The Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble is a group of teen artist-activists from the Austin area who use theatre as a tool to help their community foster healthy relationships, celebrate diversity, and imagine innovative ways to stand up to injustice.

We are looking for new members to join our ensemble for 2016-2017!

We interviewed some of our teen artist-activists to understand what Changing Lives means to them, and demonstrate what it could mean for YOU.

What interested you about Changing Lives? Why did you audition?

McCall (2nd year cast member): Being able to spread a message that people may not know about to kids that don’t really get taught these things.

Emma (1st year cast member): As well as being able to do theater and be passionate about that, I can be passionate about social issues as well, so it’s just combining two things that I love.

Nico (1st year cast member): Activism is really important, as a person w/multiple queer identities.  I auditioned because, well first and foremost, because I think theater is a really awesome and powerful mechanism. But also this is a theater ensemble based around activism is really cool and just a really important thing to do.

Why is the message of Changing Lives important?

Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble

Isaiah (2nd year cast member): I feel like in middle school you really find out who you’re gonna be and how you’re gonna act for the rest of your life, so I feel like if we can affect them now maybe they won’t make so many bad decisions in their relationships and have good, healthy relationships.

Kyra (1st year cast member): It teaches kids about healthy relationships and what actually happens in the world.

McCall: A lot of this isn’t taught and I think we can make a difference and have a new future where these things are educated and known and respected.

Peyton: I think [our message] is super important, specifically for middle school students, because it’s right when you’ve kind of been influenced by society, but not quite yet and you’re kind of in the middle of it so we get to be a part of that influence and that’s really big.

When was a time when the audience was really understanding or connecting with the message?

Nico: Personally, I identify as non-binary. There was a day when we went to Bedichek [Middle School] and we had performed everything and there were [teens] in the audience who also identified as non-binary. In the talk back there was another [teen] who asked about it. And it was a really good moment to educate them about non-binary gender queer identities and to see them kind of getting it. That was a really good moment to me because that’s an issue that’s close to my heart.

Isaiah: Last year I played the character of Prince Charming, and he wasn’t the nicest guy in the world. He thought all women needed to do things for him and they didn’t need to think. [After a performance] I had a girl come up to me and she showed me her progress report and said “I think I’m smarter than you.” And I told her, “You probably are smarter.” That was one of times when I felt like I really affected someone.

Emma: One school we went to – it was a school where some of the issues in our show actually do occur on a daily basis – after the show the principal opened up a really nice talk with the kids about how they can prevent [violence] from happening in their school and how they can identify it.

What’s your favorite part about being in the ensemble?

Peyton: My favorite part is that there are so many different people. I can’t be in a place where there’s the same people or the same sort of clique everywhere. I like it when there’s a variety of people, different ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, and heritages.

Nico: The people. I’ve met so many cool and really supportive people in the ensemble. It really feels like a family and a home.

McCall: I love spreading the message about healthy relationships and [gender-based] issues.

Ready to Join?

Auditions will take place on Wednesday, May 11th & Thursday, May 12th 6:30-9:00 pm. Please visit our website to sign up for an audition slot. If you have any questions, please email Changing Lives Managing Director Meg Greene

About Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble

The Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble is a unique and exciting collaboration between Expect Respect, a program of SAFE, and Creative Action. This program is a group of teen artist-activists from the Austin area who use theatre as a tool to help their community foster healthy relationships, celebrate diversity, and imagine innovative ways to stand up to injustice. For over 11 years, Changing Lives has toured their original plays to middle schools, conferences, and community spaces all across Austin and the surrounding areas to spark dialogue about teen relationships and encourage youth to take a stand against dating violence, sexual harassment, and bullying.

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