We had the J1s share their personal reflections on their experience with NYeDC and Drama Night to date. Every single interviewee opened expressing how fun it has been for them. Elaborating further, they described how non-competitive our CCA was; how they felt relaxed during our sessions; and how they felt free to create and express themselves without having to fear the judgement of others. They also recognized that working as a team was essential to our success and that each one could contribute to the overall effort in their own special way.
Much of this feedback came from the kids who have had experiences with other CCAs before and then came over to join us because we didn't run our organization like Hitler Youth. With us, they say, they are able to enjoy close bonds of friendship, and many memorable moments spent in good company.
To be fair, it's not like theatre is a haven for slackers and losers. As an art form, there are skills to be acquired through training; a discipline that comes from a dedication to schedule; a sense of teamwork and coordination among people offering different talents and skill sets; and no small amount of courage in stepping out of a teenager's usual comfort zone and willingly "throw face" in front of friends, peers and family. Yet all of this acquired training is transparent because we offer it to them in a fun and non-threatening way. And we laugh a lot. It's the nature of our craft.
It's good for me to hear all this from independent sources speaking from personal experience. It's exactly the kind of CCA I've wanted to build: less focused on a fire-and-forget KPIs or national awards, and more on offering a positive experience in an art form that they will continue to enjoy (some may even grow to indulge in) for the rest of their lives.
But for today, let's hope the J1s will build on their positive experiences and find a way to bring their joy to a larger segment of our campus, not as a KPI but because everybody needs a little theatre in their lives.