On teens, awards, and judging art

Perhaps you heard the announcement yesterday that our teen Shadow Company was accepted into the 1st ever Philadelphia Youth Theatre Festival. We are excited about this opportunity to perform, but it also holds a bit of discomfort for us as we are artists and storytellers first, collaborators to boot! Our whole company, our entire organization is in many ways, the antithesis of competition. However, this isn’t our teen’s first trip to that type of rodeo…

Last year, we participated in our first ever adjudicated theatre festival. At the ESTA (Eastern States Theater Association) Fest in Delaware, the teens competed against adult companies from across the east coast with their masked dance/theatre piece “The Fall.” Shadow Company won 4 awards: Outstanding achievement in Sound Design, Outstanding achievement in Costuming, Outstanding achievement for Ensemble Performance, and the prestigious Spencer Watson Technical Theatre – Direction Award.

Winning those awards was huge for a company that doesn’t typically compete, but the resulting dialog among the members of the company was where we really saw the impact of our work. To a person, each Shadow teen recognized that, while awards are nice, it is not our goal and definitely not as important as our process. I wish you were in our post-show meetings! It was so heartening to hear teen after teen share that the parts of the trip that meant the most to them were playing together in a nearby kiddie park, singing in the cars on the highway, and being able to be together to share their story with an audience. It’s not that the awards don’t feel good (that’s a double negative – the awards do feel good), but we know that the lasting impact on those teens is the power they feel in being connected, in making a difference.

You can make a difference too. If you know a teen (or are a teen) who would love to join us, please have them sign up for our summer Shadow camp program. The summer is a great time to intersect and become part of the team. If you would like to support Shadow Company financially to ensure that they can continue to make a difference in this world, please click here now.

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