Promising Playwright, October 2008
"This is how life works. You don’t always get what you want."
This refrain is repeated by multiple characters in Jorge Hernandez’s play The Last Goodbye. It betrays a world-weariness that is not immediately apparent upon meeting the playwright. Jorge is sunny and hopeful, polite and inquisitive. He is in twelfth grade at Bell Multicultural High School and hopes next year to attend George Washington University or Harvard.
"Some people have told me that it won’t be possible," Jorge says, "but I’m still dreaming." He smiles broadly.
Jorge’s sunny outlook has persisted in the face of difficult circumstances. When he moved to DC four years ago from Guatemala, he found learning a new language difficult. He struggled in his 9th grade advanced placement classes, to the point where he considered dropping out. "My mom pushed me," he says, "and here I am, in my senior year."
Far from becoming a drop-out, Jorge has actually become a student leader. He organizes a group of students who meet after school to write plays about community issues. He discovered the power of theater to capture an audience while he was serving as an Urban Educator for Mary’s Center, a health and community services center in Washington, DC.
"We would research these issues and then make Powerpoints and do presentations at the schools. The students weren’t excited by the Powerpoint presentations," Jorge remembers.
Last year, Jorge was introduced to playwriting through YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program in his junior year. He decided that theater might be a good vehicle for persuasion. He wrote short scenes based upon the issues he had been researching with the Urban Educators. They performed one of his scenes at the next school presentation. "I saw they really listened to the scenes. The students really liked that," Jorge enthuses.
Jorge’s play The Last Goodbye will be featured at the upcoming New Writers Now!, on October 27th, giving Jorge a chance to see once again how his words can affect an audience. Jorge has also been accepted into the Young Playwrights’ Workshop for Fall 2008.