By Fareed Moustoufi, Community Engagement Fellow
After three months of workshops and an audition at Jefferson Middle School, Voices of Now is honored to begin working with the talented and dedicated Jefferson Ensemble!
Voices of Now was created and cultivated within the walls of Jefferson 10 years ago as a vehicle to create richer dialogue between the youth and community of Southwest, D.C. Every year since then, the Jefferson Ensemble has gone on to produce exciting new plays and dynamic young artists. Alumni of the ensemble have gone on to work at Arena Stage as artists in the Voices of Now Mentor Ensemble,
as counselors-in-training at Camp Arena Stage, and even as professional actors in Arena Stage productions.
The 2013 Jefferson Ensemble is made up of sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Three of this year’s nine ensemble members are returning, excited to make their second or third Voices of Now play!
Past Jefferson plays have asked questions and shared stories about belief, confidence, discovery and hope. In this year’s play, Security Blanket, the artists will explore danger, safety, security and insecurity in their lives and communities. Their play will ask important questions like, “How do you keep someone safe?” and “Whose responsibility is it to keep someone safe?”
The Jefferson Ensemble rehearses twice a week at Arena Stage. There, the Jefferson artists are exploring their title through group writing, individual journaling, professional acting exercises and group discussion. Through tackling team-building challenges, creating group performances and sharing their writing, the artists are also building a strong trust with each other.
Community is also being cultivated through a mentorship program with the Voices of Now Mentor Ensemble. The Mentor Ensemble and Jefferson Ensemble rehearsed together for the first time last week, and will continue to meet every month. These rehearsals allow the ensembles to create together, and give the high school artists time to meet with their middle school mentees.
The Jefferson artists just saw their first Arena Stage production last week, and are looking forward to a family celebration next month, when their mentors will debut their first scenes of their current play, Power Play.